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
2 oz Peach liqueuer
1 1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 Egg White
1 tsp Simple Syrup
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.