So my drinking buddy and I went to happy hour at Wolf and Crane, a bar in Little Tokyo that has a convincingly Japanese feel without straining for it. I think it has something to do with the wood.
The name, I assume, comes from Aesop’s fables – wolf gets bone stuck in throat, asks a nearby crane to help remove the bone, crane does so, then asks for a reward, wolf says, “Be content. You have put your head inside a wolf’s mouth and taken it out again in safety; that ought to be reward enough for you.”
Something to think about as you survey the drinks list which features something called Wolf and Crane, which isn’t a cocktail as such, it’s a can of Sapporo and an unidentified (at least by me) Japanese whisky – which I always think is a pretty good way to drink both beer and whisky.
But they do real cocktails too, obviously, which are not noticeably Japanese. The buddy started out with something called 1884 – a greyhound variant with added simple syrup. It looked like this:
I don’t know why it’s called the 1884, though I can think of reasons. It was the year The Modern Bartender by O.H. Byron was published. And the year this cocktail shaker was patented.
It was also the year of a peasants revolt in Japan – the Chichibu Incident, but I can’t swear that’s the origin of the name. My buddy found the 1884 just fine - but he thought the glass was a bit girly. So when he next ordered the Fiona Apple cocktail (yep, that’s what it’s called) - Mezcal, Fresh Lime Juice, Apple Spice, Bitters - he asked how it came. “In a bucket” said the bartender, which I thought was funny at the time though there might have been days when I wouldn’t have. It came looking like this:
Anyway the drink tasted very fine – genuinely sweet and sour, citrus and apple, sharp and tangy and strong: and conceivably you might say it was the alcoholic equivalent of listening to a Fiona Apple song. I wonder if Ms. Apple knows about it. She’d probably like it. We know she likes a drink and has a great sense of humor.