The Japanese cocktail is, along with the famed Blue Blazer, one of the few recipes from the 1862 “How to Mix Drinks” that are believed to be created by Jerry Thomas himself.
I used the exact recipe The Professor wrote in his influential The Bon Vivant’s Companion (later renamed to The Bar-Tender’s Guide). For that, I had to get Bogart’s Bitters and Brandy similar to those used in the first cocktails.
But why is it called the Japanese cocktail?
Best guess is that it was created for the visit of Japan's first diplomatic mission to the US in 1960. While in New York they stayed close to Jerry Thomas’ bar and the youngest of the delegation, 17-year-old Tateishi Onojiro was the darling of the American media and the ladies. It is said he enjoyed western customs, including cocktails, so it might just be that “the Professor” made him this cocktail.
Japanese Cocktail (1862)
● 1 table-spoonful of orgeat syrup
● ½ teaspoonful of Bogart’s bitters
● 1 wine glass of brandy Pierre Ferrand 1840
● 1 or 2 pieces of lemon peel
Fill the tumbler one-third with ice, and stir well with a spoon.
Japanese Cocktail (Modern Version)
● 60 ml (2 oz) Brandy Pierre Ferrand 10 Generations
● 2 dashes (4 dashes with a Japanese dasher) Angostura bitters
● 15 ml (0.5 oz) Orgeat
Stir the cocktail in a mixing glass and serve up. Express the lemon peel and place it on the side of the glass.