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.
Named for Paris’s famed thoroughfare, the Champs-Elysses is the definition of elegance. A lovely amber hue, the cocktail is made with a base of two Gallic mainstays—brandy and Green Chartreuse—and was first spotted in Harry Craddock’s 1930 cocktail reference The Savoy Cocktail Book. Craddock’s version was a big-batch party drink...