While we’re discussing the Japanese Cocktail on today’s episode of the “Cocktail College” podcast, there’s nothing about this cocktail that’s inherently Japanese, save for some of the patrons who were among the first to enjoy it at the hotel bar tended by Jerry Thomas.

This mysterious drink walks the fine line of being either a cocktail or a vehicle for highlighting the base spirit, brandy. Orgeat and bitters come into play to accentuate the preexisting attributes of a well-made brandy, but with brandy encompassing a whole world of spirits, which expressions should we reach for first? Should we reach for Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados, or maybe even some pisco or Laird’s Applejack?

To lead us on a journey in brandy exploration, we’re joined today by Will Patton. Based in Washington D.C., Will is the beverage director of the restaurants Bresca and Jônt. On today’s episode of “Cocktail College,” Will and host Tim McKirdy shed some light on the Japanese Cocktail, an all-but-forgotten, brandy-fueled classic. The two discuss the subtle differences between various brands of bitters, house-made orgeat versus store-bought, and a nifty bar hack involving lemon peels and a mixing glass. Tune in for more.

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Will Patton’s Japanese Cocktail Recipe


  • 2 ounces brandy, such as Cognac, Armagnac, or Calvados
  • ¼ ounce orgeat
  • 2 dashes aromatic bitters, such as Bitter Truth
  • Garnish: lemon twist


  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Add two lemon peels to either side of the ice on the outer inner rim of the mixing glass.
  3. Stir until chilled.
  4. Strain into a chilled Nick & Nora glass.
  5. Garnish with a lemon twist.