Category Archives: Applejack

MxMo LII: Forgotten Cocktails = Delicious Cocktails

Here we are, another month of Mixology Monday. The level of variety and creativity of the participants of this blessed event never ceases to amaze me. This month’s theme, chosen by myself of course, was Forgotten Cocktails. The challenge was to bring to our attention a cocktail that may need to be forced upon the masses, because if someone doesn’t tell them what is good to drink, how will they ever know?

Perhaps straying outside the theme a small bit, (I apparently can’t even follow my own rules) I would like to bring your attention to that oft forgotten spirit called Applejack. What is Applejack? I am glad you asked.

Applejack is a spirit produced from apples, popular in the American colonial period and thought to originate from the French apple brandy Calvados. Applejack is made by concentrating hard cider, either by the traditional method of freeze distillation or by true evaporative distillation. From the fermented juice, the distilled result is slightly sweet and usually tastes and smells of apples. Freeze distilling concentrates all of the alcohol by-products of fermentation including ethanol, methanol and fusel alcohols, and during colonial times allowed farmers to distill a spirit with no more equipment than a barrel and a hammer. Distillation by evaporation can separates the methanol and fusel alcohols from the ethanol, since they have different boiling points, and is the obviously preferred method of the modern age. Due to the higher cost and lower yield of alcohol produced from fruit fermentation, commercially produced applejack may be composed of apple brandy diluted with grain spirits until the drink reaches the desired alcohol content.

Today, the go to brand for Applejack would be Laird’s Applejack. In fact, this is probably the only product available to most people under the name Applejack. Laird’s Applejack is comprised of 35% apple brandy, and 65% neutral spirits, technically making it a blended brandy. Laird’s also produces an Old Apple Brandy and a 12yr Old Rare Apple Brandy, which are both 100% apple brandy and aged for a minimum of 7 and 12 years respectively. Clear Creek Distilling in Portland, Oregon also produces both a 2yr and an 8yr Apple Brandy, both of which are excellent. Now for some reason this spirit seems to have fallen off the radar of many bars and bartenders. Here in Bellingham, none of the upper end bars have Applejack behind their bars, including the one bar that specializes in prohibition era cocktails. Mind you, the bartender didn’t know what an Aviation was either, but that’s another story. Either way, Applejack is a product that I definitely think deserves to be brought back into the eye of the general public.

Now, on to the cocktails. Today I will present you with two drinks, one of which will be known in many of the great classic cocktail bars around the world, and one which is all but unknown. Both of these drinks utilize Applejack as their base spirit. The first drink is the Jack Rose.

There are several theories on the name of the Jack Rose, It could be named after Jacque Rose, or the gangster in an early twentieth-century murder trial, or simply because it contains Applejack and it is rose colored. Either way, this is a simple, silky drink, that works well with either lemon or lime juice. sweetened simply by a few generous dashes of grenadine, this simple variation on an Applejack sour deserves to be brought back into the limelight. While this drink works well with the regular old Laird’s Applejack, the Laird’s Straight Apple Brandy as used by the Merchant Hotel Bar makes this drink exquisite. Also, please do yourself a favor and don’t use that overly syrupy grenadine found in most stores. It’s easy to make your own out of actual pomegranite juice, and it tastes so much better.

The Jack Rose
1 1/2oz Applejack
1 oz Lemon Juice
2 barspoons Grenadine

The next cocktail is the Delicious Sour. A truly forgotten cocktail which at first glance appears to be a pretentious, sickly sweet combination of ingredients, but in actually is very well balanced and in fact, Delicious. Created by William “The Only William” Schmidt, and as far as I know, found only in his book, The Flowing Bowl (1892), this drink takes a basic Applejack sour formulation, adds a good dose of peach liqueur, and still manages to provides several layers of depth, while remaining extremely well balanced and not overly sweet. William may not have come up with very many good drinks, but this one he nailed, and you would do yourself a great favor by trying it out yourself.

The Delicious Sour
2oz Applejack
2 oz Peach liqueuer
1 1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 Egg White
1 tsp Simple Syrup
Soda Water

There are several other great Applejack based drinks out there as well, and many more to be made, as people start experimenting with this spirit once again. Cheers, and be sure to come back for the MxMo roundup, which I should have posted up in a couple of days.

Vintage Cocktails #23: The Pink Lady

In Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, the following drink is presented as the Secret Cocktail. It is actually a Clover Club cocktail with the addition of a single ingredient. While the drink has with a lovely pink hue, it is actually a great drink and I think would be more popular if it wasn’t for the name.

The Pink Lady
1 1/2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Applejack
Juice of half a Lemon (about 1 oz)
1 Egg White
2 dashes Pomegranate Grenadine

Would you walk into a bar and order a Pink Lady?

Delicious Sour

Vintage Cocktails #6: The Delicious Sour

This next drink first appears in the 1892 book The Flowing Bowl by William Schmidt. Apparently Schmidt loved to create his own drinks with odd and questionable ingredients, and only occasionally came up with a winner, and this cocktail is definitely a winner!

None of the ingregents in this book are really rare, or unusual in my book. Sure, it uses an egg white, but to me that has just become part and parcel to a great cocktail. I’m not sure I can really even enjoy a sour without that old school layer of foam on the top. Anyhow, the drink does contain Applejack, which I think can be classified as America’s original native spirit. A distillate of hard cider, Applejack is a much bolder “version” of Calvados, the French apple brandy. Applejack, technically is a brandy, but tastes, acts, and is used more like a whiskey. While there were once many distilleries producing this product, now there are few.

Laird & Company of New Jersey is the sole remaining company producing applejack. They make two versions, a generic version of apple spirits mixed with neutral grain spirits, and a bottled-in-bond product. Get the latter if you can find it. Clear Creek Distillery in Oregon also makes an apple brandy that is quite bold, and I think can be subbed for the Applejack if need be.

The Delicious Sour
2 oz Applejack
2 oz Peach flavored Brandy
1 oz Lime Juice
1 Egg White
1 tsp Sugar
Top with Soda Water

The Delicious Sour upon first sip gives a great apple flavor, followed by a rich peach taste, and has a long finish of the sour, flavored again by apple. It is not harsh, in fact, despite that there are 4 oz of liquor, I could barely taste any alcohol at all. Really a splendid drink, and one that I think I will enjoy often. Or at least will press upon others until they give in!