Japanese Cocktail

I’m not sure what’s happened to the dignified institution of bartending, but (and I wish I were kidding) every single time I order a Godfather, I get a perplexed look, then a meek question asking what exactly that is. It’s not that extreme of a drink. Hell, it’s a classic! I digress. What I wanted was another option to (apparently confuse bartenders) drink that was similar to the Godfather. Hello Japanese Cocktail, you’ll do nicely!

pour cognac

Ah the Japanese Cocktail, this is one of those drinks doesn’t necessarily have a whole lot to do specifically with what the name implies. There’s no sake, no Japanese beers (though a Japanese beer cocktail, that’s an idea for a future post), none of the famed Japanese whisky, none of that. It first came out in the 1862 edition of Jerry Thomas’ How to Mix Drinks and was named that because, uh, obviously.

This is a tricky one now, pay close attention. It has not one or two, but three ingredients! Yup. Toughie.

As happens with these cocktails that are simplified in their construction, the quality of your ingredients is important. Don’t skimp out on yourself here — go with stuff you like, none of that bottom shelf charcoal filtered (let’s be nice and call that swill) booze.

homemade orgeatstir in mixing glass

Here are the three things you need to hunt down: bitters (of the Angostura variety), cognac and orgeat. If you’re unfamiliar with orgeat, allow me to rock your world with yumminess. It is almond syrup! Fancy name, tasty treat.

If you’re struggling to find a good one around you, the power of the internet shall provide, of this I’m confident. However, if you’re a little more DIY, then you can make it yourself — in fact, that’s exactly what we did. I promise we’ll get that up shortly, I just needed to tweak a few things to get the recipe perfect.

As a quick aside, I had develop the recipe for orgeat because I needed an almond milk tea and couldn’t find an almond syrup I liked. Naturally, the only answer was to make my own. And yes, almond milk tea is amazing — if you’ve never had it, it’s milk tea with almond flavoring. If you’re unfamiliar with milk tea, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Also, time for you to get out more! Lemme know when you’re going, I’ll join.

pour cocktail into glass

Anyway, back to the Japanese Cocktail. You’re going to combine your three ingredients of cognac, orgeat and bitters, stir and serve. Pretty simple, no? The flavor is nice and reminiscent of the Godfather, subtlety sweet, nutty, rich, a quality after dinner drink. Time to add another one to the ol’ repertoire of confusing bartenders.

Onto the Japanese Cocktail!

Japanese Cocktail
Recipe type: Drinks
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
  • 2 oz. cognac
  • ½ oz. orgeat
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Lemon peel
  • Glass type: coupe (or cordial as we've used, you pedantic folks you)
  1. Get ready!
  2. Add your cognac, orgeat and bitters to your cocktail stirring glass with ice.
  3. Because you're fancy.
  4. Stir them until their best buds and perfectly chilled.
  5. Strain into your coupe.
  6. Or cordial glass, if you're really fancy.
  7. Might need to drink with your pinky up that way.
  8. Garnish with a lemon peel.
  9. Drink with distinction.