Applejack was an American rite of passage as the nation passed from the annuls of other cultures and struck out to establish something uniquely its own. The Jack Rose Cocktail is the rare, applejack-based classic cocktail that is determined in its own right to both refresh and confuse the drinker with something as well-suited for the dead of summer as it is for the dead of winter.
This one is as simple as a dimple, but its place in lore and the hierarchy of cocktails is established and well-reasoned — classic Applejack recipes are rare, it seems.
Applejack. The American spirit. A wily Scot by the name of William Laird brought his distilling prowess to the colonies, settling in New Jersey, and started in on an apple brandy (the term “jack” coming from the freeze distillation process). Laird’s Distillery, the defacto sovereigns of “Jersey Lightning,” was first incorporated in 1780 and as of 2009 was the only applejack producer in the United States (opportunity?). The lore goes that George Washington was the only non-Laird to hold the formula, and that applejack was the American choice in the days when whiskey was entirely unpalatable sans citrus, sugar and water (a cocktail).
David Wondrich provides in Imbibe! that:
Unfortunately, the regular Laird’s applejack one sees around is a blended product, and is hence mostly neutral spirits and water. If you can’t find their (pure) bonded version or their old apple brandy (…) better to use a VS-grade Calvados from France.
Well, I had apparently forgotten that before I rushed out and bought my bottle of Laird’s, but I’ll remember to search for it next time I’m at Hi-Times.
The Jack Rose Cocktail (from Eleven Madison Park via MixShakeStir):
- 2 oz. Laird’s Applejack
- 3/4 oz. Grenadine (homemade is best)
- 1 oz. fresh lime juice
Build over ice in a shaker and shake vigorously. Double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a thin slice of apple.
- Equal parts pomegranate juice (use a 100% pure juice) and sugar
Combine ingredients in a medium saucepan and turn heat on med-high. Heat and stir until all sugar is dissolved, turn off heat, let cool and strain into an airtight container. Should keep for a month.
This is a wonderful cocktail. Simple, clean and packed with a punch of flavor. If you have some applejack lying around or feel compelled to go pick some up; I suggest this be your first recipe for it. It’s a classic and it’s easy to see why.