The Alexander cocktail is not a particularly popular drink in Europe. Unlike Japan, where this cocktail is not met with the same reservations. Enter Yasutaka Nakamori and his fairy-tale variation.
One of many great qualities of cocktails is that they invite you to dream. Every drink has a story, a mood and an origin. Following the cocktails’ lead you travel around the world comfortably from your chair. Starting with a French 75, moving to a Martini, an Oaxaca Old Fashioned, a Mai Tai and ending on a Japanese Cocktail, you travel a fair bit without taking a single day of vacation.
Such cocktail-aided journeys, if you so will, allow you to focus on your picturesque preconceptions rather than to confront the less poetic reality of your destination. Such a palliations are not uncommon, and usually quite harmless.
Except in Japan, where France is believed to be paradise on earth. Here, no other non-Asian cuisine is so widely represented as the French one, and if you care about your reputation you’ll give a French name to your residence. This can become a problem for Japanese tourists in Paris, whose transfigured image of the City of Love clashes with the harshness of its inhabitants. For some travellers this shock can be so dramatic that they have to be hospitalised. The Japanese embassy even maintains an emergency hotline for such cases.
It is hardly a surprise then to find a plethora of bars in Tokyo devoted to the riskless mediation of French culture. The best of them is Mr Nakamori’s Doras Bar, which he opened eleven years ago. Here, Japanese francophilia and dedication are combined to create a vision of France how we’d like to imagine it. The bar fits maybe ten people; candlelight and opera music in the background. Cognac and classic Cognac Cocktails are served in vintage glasses. It is quiet, dark and cosy.
Every year Nakamori travels to Cognac to learn more and to visit friends he’s made over the years. For example, there’s a strong bond between him and Guy Pinard, a small maison producing honest, focussed Cognacs.
Alexander Cocktail, fixed.
Maybe it’s the cultural distance; maybe it’s the sweet tooth of the Japanese, but bartenders in Japan do not have the same reservations for cocktails which are scorned in Europe: A frozen Margarita is taken just as seriously as a Manhattan, and there’s no need to feel ashamed for ordering an Alexander. In honour of a Japan visit of Mr Pinard, Nakamori gave the Alexander cocktail a brush over, and presents the Alexander how it’s supposed to be.
Normally, the Alexander is a taxingly sweet concoction with a simplistic taste, which gives little room for the Cognac or gin to shine. Nakamori stays true to the original in terms of sweetness – the Alexander cocktail is supposed to be an after-dinner drink, after all. Instead, he uses the famed Japanese hard shake to incorporate air into the drink and create a fluffy texture. This greatly benefits the Cognac and allows it to unfold its complexity.
Nakamori chose a young Cognac from the Fins Bois, which is marked by its thrifty, fresh aromas. To put them in the limelight, he adds a few drops of Chartreuse and Anisette. The latter, of course, marries well with the cacao, and so he creates a melodious and interesting cocktail. A cocktail with which you can travel to Paris; to Paris, as it should be.
- 30 ml young, fruity Cognac
- 20 ml fresh cream
- 15 ml white Crème de Cacao
- 2 ml green Chartreuse
- 2 ml Anisette
- Shake all ingredients vigorously in a Cobbler shaker to incorporate air. Strain into chilled coupette.