Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I don’t want this blog to turn into the Psycho-Mixologist but I do seem to be on a roll at the moment, and I just bought this amazing little book.

It’s a parallel text in English and Japanese, and the contents page describes it as an “American-Japanese Bartenders Guide” It’s written by somebody named Kappa, and the publisher is Kasuga Boeki of Tokyo, distributed (not sure how widely) by the Charles E. Tuttle Company.

The book doesn’t have a date on it.  The most reliable sources I’ve found place it as 1953.  It calls itself a revised edition, and although some sources doubt that there ever was a previous edition, others say it’s a reprint from a 1940 edition.  I don’t honestly know where these sources are getting their information.

I suppose there may have been some Japanese bartenders who wanted to impress American customers in 1940, and by 1953 (the year after the end of the American occupation) I suppose they’d be wanting to impress them in a different way.

Anyway it’s a lovely little book The English language versions of the recipes seem perfectly good: I can’t speak for the translation.  My copy did have a couple of odd, possibly alcoholic, stains on the front that came off pretty easily.  The idea (unprovable of course) that they might have been splashed there by some eager Japanese bartender in the early 1950s is somehow very moving.

More moving still in its way, the book contains the United Nations Cocktail, which obviously couldn’t have been in any 1940 edition.  It contains one ounce each of American Bourbon, “British Scotch Whiskey.” Cuban Rum, French Cognac, Dutch Gin, Swedish Punch, Vodka (nation unspecified: you’d think Russian but no doubt the Cold War had turned very chilly by then) and Japanese sake.  The instructions say, “Shake on Ice, strain into Highball glass and avoid police action.”  A little cocktail humor there.

I was hoping to find an image of a 1950s Japanese bartender, but I’ve failed.  The best I could do was the above Monkey bartender automaton, made in occupied Japan: a little something to remind Americans of home.


  1. Have you dared to try the United Nations Cocktail yet? It sounds horrendous, like something a frat boy would drink on a bet, but I'm tempted to try it just once.

  2. I agree with Anon above - in fact I suspect all the tastes would more or less cancel each other out - then it would unite people of all nations by making them throw up -