The Japanese Slipper is a modern classic of limited yet enduring popularity. Based upon the bright green Japanese melon liqueur Midori, it certainly stands out. Just slightly tangy yet with a sweetness to it, it is a good way to make use of Midori.
It consists simply of Midori, triple sec and lemon juice. Making it part of the sub group of cocktails known as New Orleans Sours. These are defined by their use of triple sec as a sweetening agent to counter the sour element of the citrus juice they use. Although in the Japanese Slipper’s case this is somewhat confused by the sweetness of the Midori base itself. Regardless, this makes the Japanese Slipper closely related to popular classics such as the Cosmopolitan, Margarita and Sidecar.
As such, the Japanese Slipper is a well balanced classic, sitting right in the middle of the Axes of Taste. It could be counted as a Neo-Martini. But just as easily belongs to the Short and Serious taste profile.
Without doubt the most salient feature of the Japanese Slipper is its colour. Not many cocktails are green. Let alone an almost luminous bright green. This certainly helps it stand out and be noticed.
This colour is a result of Midori, the (even more) bright green Japanese melon liqueur. A product first released early in the 1980s. Though unlike as might happen today, it wasn’t released worldwide in one go. Instead being released in different countries across a number of years. And unusually was released in both North America and Western Europe comparatively late.
As with any new product, upon its release bartenders experimented with it. There do still exist cocktails which use Midori in small quantities. But of those using Midori as its primary base, only the Japanese Slipper and the Midori Sour have stood the test of time.
The official history states that the Japanese Slipper was created in 1984 by Jean-Paul Bourguignon at Mietta’s Restaurant in Melbourne, Australia. I have no reason to doubt this. But nor do I consider it to be much of an achievement. As it is simply the application of a new product to a tried and tested process. The kind of “experimentation” that any number of other bartenders could also have easily achieved.
As for it’s name…it’s unclear. The Japanese clearly comes from the Japanese Midori. But Slipper? You got me…
Actually making a Japanese Slipper is really quite simple as it has only three ingredients. In a bar I’d typically shake one for speed & efficiency, but there is no reason not to stir it if desired.
So, into your mixing glass you’ll want to pour: perhaps a shot and a third (ish) of Midori, or approx 35ml; then ~2/3 of a shot or 15ml Cointreau or another triple sec; and the freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon. Then simply shake and double strain into a martini glass or equivalent. Nice and simple.
To garnish I’d recommend using something which follows the Japanese Slipper’s brightly coloured appeal. Something also brightly coloured, yet of a good contrast. A lemon twist works well enough. But probably an orange twist or a maraschino cherry works even better.