I am hoping that some of you decided to make orgeat syrup a while back when I showed you the recipe and featured the Mai Tai as the Drink of the Week. If you skipped it, I suppose you can always buy some orgeat, but you really should try the Mai Tai made properly (using orgeat, no grenadine, no orange or pineapple juice). You can fuss over the rum if you like, but don’t let it stop you from making the Mai Tai altogether. So, enough about the Mai Tai. . .
For those of you that have the orgeat syrup (or can spend some time to make some) here’s another classic recipe that makes great use of it. It’s called the Japanese Cocktail, and it’s very tasty. This one is easy and uses brandy as the base spirit. Now, some folks are confused about brandy, Cognac and Armagnac. Basically, brandy itself is distilled wine, and the wine is typically fermented grape juice—although technically, a brandy can be made from any fruit. Cognac and Armagnac are brandies from specific regions of France where distillers take great pride and care in creating a product of very high quality. As with any regional product, there are variations in flavor depending on the origin, time aged in barrels, vintage and so on. It can get a little overwhelming, but unless another fruit is specified, you can assume a brandy is made from grape wine, and price is often an indication of quality.
2 oz brandy
.5 oz orgeat syrup
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Add ingredients to a mixing glass and stir with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass garnish with a twist of lemon peel.
Back in Jerry Thomas’s day, the good professor would have used Boker’s Bitters. These bitters have long been extinct, but recently an enterprising fellow began making them again. Since they are still hard to find, I suggest Angostura, although you could probably try some of the other aromatic bitters that are available now. Should you use an expensive Cognac for this drink? Why not—it will certainly taste good. Do you need to use an expensive spirit? Heavens no. It’s going to be delicious anyway with your homemade orgeat syrup. Now, who can tell me how I made the cute, continuous-loop lemon twist garnish I have pictured here?