While sipping on a classic Japanese Cocktail the other night, I pondered about the fact that there wasn’t one thing related to its namesake I could think of. Sure, its designation most likely stemmed from its creation back around 1850 when the first Japanese delegation came to the United States, specifically New York, and one of the delegates, Tateishi Onojirou Noriyuki, was to said to of been quite the imbiber and playboy. Jerry Thomas had one of the most popular spots in New York at that time and when he published his 1862 The Bon-Vivant’s Companion, that specific cocktail was mentioned. Whether there is an actual connection between the Japanese delegation is up in the air, but as I stated before, nothing really Japanese about it.
Pondering on this quandary I set out to create a variation of this classic, but as I started to mix ingredients and get a solid recipe together I noticed that it went from resembling the Japanese Cocktail to a more like a New York Sour. Really, the New York Sour gets its personality from the lovely float of a dry, red wine. The classic sour started to get all fancied up with a careful float of red wine around the 1880’s and we now see its revival on many cocktail menus abound. Sure, the combination of sugar, whiskey and lemon juice is delicious, but fairly safe.
For me, I wanted to use common ingredients found in Japanese culture. Lychee, whiskey, passion fruit; all things that are used in a lot in Asian, especially, Japanese cuisine and beverages. I used some mole bitters to balance out the sweet lychee and tart passion fruit. The way the spice and cocoa intermingle with the other ingredients made for an interesting note in the finish. A small note of using passion fruit; it can be very hard to find “real” passion fruit juice in most markets. Read the labels carefully as many use lots of water and sugar. Fresh passion fruit juice is tart and slightly bitter. I recommend juicing your own or using a concentrate and diluting with water to get juice. Turned out pretty well if I do say so, and there is something distinctly Japanese about it, if I do say so myself. Cheers.
2 oz Japanese Whiskey (I used Suntory brand)
1/4 oz Lychee Liqueur
1 oz Passion Fruit Juice
2 tsp Superfine Sugar
2 dashes Bittermans Mole Bitters
1/2 oz Pinot Noir Float
Lychee Fruit for Garnish
Shake everything but wine with ice. Strain into an Old Fashioned Glass with large ice cubes. Float wine on top. Garnish and enjoy.
Color: Golden yellow with a burgundy float
Flavor: Smooth, slightly spiced whiskey, sweet lychee, tart passion fruit, spice, mild sugar
Texture: Smooth and light, dry finish