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Pistachio rose rhubarb Japanese cocktail: seasonal twist on Jerry Thomas classic

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Pistachio rose rhubarb Japanese cocktail is a delicate seasonal twist on the classic Japanese cocktail recipe appearing in Jerry Thomas’ (1862: 673) Bar-tender’s Guide containing brandy, Boker’s bitters, almond orgeat syrup and ice with a lemon peel garnish. Pistachio rose rhubarb Japanese cocktail offers a modern seasonal take on the classic Japanese cocktail through delicate pistachio rose water orgeat and rhubarb cacao bitters.

~History of the Japanese cocktail: an original recipe created by bartender Jerry Thomas
According to cocktail historian David Wondrich writing for Esquire the classic Japanese cocktail was created and named by Jerry Thomas for the first Japanese diplomatic visit to America – one of the delegates was a regular customer at Thomas’ bar – rather than being a cocktail originating in Japan. The original recipe for the Japanese Cocktail is in Jerry Thomas’ (1862: 673) Bar-tender’s Guide.

~How to make a Pistachio rose rhubarb Japanese cocktail
The original Japanese cocktail recipe method in Jerry Thomas’ (1862: 673) Bar-tender’s Guide reads:

“Fill the tumbler one-third with ice, stir well with a spoon, and strain into a cocktail glass.”

Although David Wondrich in his recipe for Japanese Cocktail in Esquire explains that the glass tumbler could have a close ended metal tube attached allowing the drink to then be shaken. The original recipe whether stirred or shaken still relies on the process of stirring or shaking with ice for dilution. While remaining faithful to the original preparation method of dilution with ice I have drawn on Simon Difford’s (2019) recipe for the Japanese cocktail in Difford’s Guide and measured the amount of water as part of the recipe as well as stirring with ice for some further dilution. I tried to make the pistachio rose rhubarb Japanese cocktail both ways but prefer the stirred method with ice and the measured cooled water.

Modern seasonal twist on the classic Japanese cocktail
Pistachio rose rhubarb Japanese cocktail offers a modern seasonal twist on the classic Japanese cocktail recipe using homemade pistachio rose water orgeat syrup and rhubarb bitters. Pistachio rose water orgeat is homemade using fresh in season pistachios with a little rose water for flavouring. The rose water and pistachios offer an alternative to the usual almond based Japanese cocktail orgeat syrup, with a more sweet, subtle and delicate flavour that works well with the tartness of rhubarb bitters and the complexity of chocolate and watteseed and the warmth of the cognac. The dilution using water and ice means that the delicacy of the flavours in the orgeat and the bitters shine through. The lemon oil from the lemon twist garnish offers a fresh fragrance and lifts the flavour profile beautifully complementing the warmth of the cognac. The yellow of the lemon is also visually striking offering a pop of colour and brightness to this cocktail.

~Slow food worth the wait: seasonal preserving with rhubarb bitters and pistachio orgeat syrup
Pistachio rose rhubarb Japanese cocktail recipe requires some preparation in advance to make the rhubarb bitters and the pistachio rose water orgeat syrup – however, both these quality ingredients can be used in more than one cocktail and offer unique and complex flavours not otherwise available. The time and effort spent making bitters and orgeat is well worthwhile and offers a way of slowing down and creating quality recipes from scratch where you know exactly what is contained in the final product. The rhubarb bitters and pistachio orgeat are both truly seasonal products relying on old fashioned means for preserving the best of the season. Orgeat being an interesting case in point was popular as a cordial prior to the invention of refrigeration as it offered an alternative to milk and milk based products that could not so easily be kept fresh. Once you have made the bitters and orgeat syrup the cocktail itself is simple to make.

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Pistachio rose rhubarb Japanese cocktail

Print Recipe
Serves: 1 Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

1

Add all the ingredients except the garnish to a mixing glass and stir with a mixing spoon until well combined, chilled and until reaching the required dilution

2

Strain into a cocktail glass

3

Garnish with a lemon peel, twisting the peel over the glass and around the rim before adding to the drink

Notes

~Jerry Thomas’ original recipe for the Japanese cocktail

Jerry Thomas (1862, 2016 reprint of 1887 version). Jerry Thomas' Bartenders Guide: How to Mix All Kinds of Plain and Fancy Drinks Dover: New York, originally Dick & Fitzgerald: New York.

~Other online Japanese cocktail recipes

Japanese cocktail: A Jerry Thomas original in Punch

David Wondrich Japanese Cocktail in Esquire

Simon Difford Japanese Cocktail in Difford’s Guide

Marcia Simmons Japanese Cocktail in Serious Eats

Jon Harris The Japanese in Liquor.com

Japanese in Tuxedo No. 2

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