Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy and AppleJack are quite possibly my favorite spirits.
AppleJack was the first commercially distilled spirit in America and the Laird family established America’s first commercial distillery in Scobeyville, New Jersey in 1780. Scotsman Alexander Laird emigrated in 1698 and began producing AppleJack for his family’s use. Fast forward to 1760 when descendant Robert Laird served in the Revolutionary War under George Washington and the Laird family supplied the troops with Applejack. Mr. Washington himself was a fan, requesting the recipe and referring to the "cyder spirits" in his diary.
The name AppleJack supposedly refers to the term Jacking, meaning creating a spirit from freeze distillation. This method involves freezing a fermented product (i.e. apple cider) and scraping the softer, high alcohol contents away from the frozen water. This method declined because the byproducts of fermentation (methanol, ethanol, etc.) cannot be separated and it was therefore inferior to evaporative distillation. Today’s AppleJack is made from naturally fermented apples which are distilled and aged for 4 to 8 years. This Apple Brandy is then blended with 65% neutral spirits to create AppleJack. Lairds also produces Bonded Apple Brandy, a 100 proof spirit made from 100% apple brandy aged 6 to 10 years.
The unique flavor of AppleJack is reason enough to stock your bar with it and it is also essential for classics such as the Jack Rose. But aside from these two reasons, I personally feel a sense of pride in being able to go through our country's history and collect things that are uniquely American such as this classic spirit. We are a young country and there are so few things that you can trace back to the beginning of America. It’s kind of my way of discovering who I am as an American - a way of reminding myself what it is to be American. We are entrepreneurs, inventors, builders and makers of things. It’s what we do. It’s who we are. That is why I love AppleJack. It is American through and through. Before there was Bourbon there was Rye and before there was Rye there was AppleJack, Laird’s AppleJack.
The Jack Rose is one of six basic drinks listed in David A. Embury's classic bar book "The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks." The drink was popular in the 20's and 30's.
1.5 oz Applejack
.5 oz Lemon or Lime Juice
.5 oz Grenadine
Shake/strain into a chilled cocktail glass
and garnish with a brandied cherry.
What our friends say about the Jack Rose:
http://davestolte.com/?p=369 and http://www.homebarbasics.com/?p=390