Though its name implies a connection to Japan, don’t expect to see sake or Japanese whisky in this three-ingredient cocktail. According to cocktail historian David Wondrich, this was the first drink recipe to appear in print—in Jerry Thomas’s seminal 1862 book Bartenders Guide: How to Mix Drinks—whose name does not reflect the ingredients in the drink. He also notes that the drink may have been inspired by Japan’s first mission to the United States in 1860, but there’s no definitive proof one way or the other. In any case, the Japanese Cocktail is a potent reminder that drinks don’t have to be complicated, and that orgeat can be use in more than just Mai Tais.
Not much is known about the mysterious origins of the Poison Dart, but bartenders have kept the tiki classic alive by word of mouth. It is one of the only bourbon-based tiki cocktails, making it a truly unique drink worth passing down bartender generation to bartender generation. Don’t expect the round, molasses flavors you get from a traditional...