American cocktails have had a presence in Japan since the 1870s with the opening of the International Hotel and the Grand Hotel in 1890, according to the Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails. Japanese bartenders trained in American style cocktails began opening their own bars by the early 1900s.
After WWII, an increased presence of American expats, tourists, and military personnel reemphasized the hospitality industry’s need to cater to western preferences. This scarce pocket-sized book is a fine example of the changing demands of a world opening up to greater travel and cultural exchange.
The book was published in the early 1950s and remained in print into the late 1970s, but we don’t know anything about the author, named on the title page only as “Kappa,” which is the name of an amphibious spirit in Japanese folklore. Whether it is the real name of the author or some kind of pen name is unclear, but the quotes around it suggest some sort of playfulness is afoot.
The book’s table of contents and three pages of black and white photos of bar tools is in English, but the recipes are bilingual and the index in Japanese only. You’ll encounter all the cocktails a mid-century bartender would likely need to know, organized alphabetically by the English alphabet, from the Adonis to the Zombie. The 19th century classics are there—Manhattans, martinis, old fashioneds. Others, like the whiz bang, speak more to the era and clientele in the early 20th century.
Our copy is stated as revised but bears no date. Bookseller consensus suggests an early 1953 printing for this printing since dates and advertisements appear in later copies. The copy is in Very Good condition, issued without a dust jacket. There is a small divot on the front cover, exposing the board, and the rear board is rippled and slightly bowed in a way suggestive of the book having been kept in a resourceful bartender’s rear pocket. Lightly shelfworn. The interior is clean and unmarked. An uncommon find.