Matthew Kelly / Supercall

Cognac • Sweet
Japanese Cocktail

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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.

The Essentials

Angostura Bitters
The Details


2 oz Cognac
.5 oz orgeat
2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters
lemon twist


  • Add all ingredients save for the garnish to a shaker and fill with ice.
  • Shake, and strain into a small coupe or cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a lemon twist.
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