Applejack is one of the oldest continuously produced spirits in the United States. The spirit takes its name from “jacking”, a term for freeze distillation that is part of the traditional production process. The most common applejack is a blended variety produced by Laird’s. We suggest you reserve judgement on applejack until mixed. A straight dose may seem lacking in anticipated apple vibes, but with the proper treatment of tart and sweet, the apple flavor magically blossoms.
The Jack Rose is the perfect cocktail for unlocking those apple flavors. While familiar sours like the daiquiri, Margarita, and sidecar depend upon well-trodden spirits; the brilliant Jack Rose hinges on its unique base spirit: applejack.
For those looking to power up on apple flavor, unblended and aged apple brandies exist in various forms. Laird’s straight bonded is a higher-proof alternative. Another option is an apple eau de vie, a brandy made by distilling fermented fruit mash. French calvados—eau de vie aged for two years in oak casks—is a classic choice. Additionally, there are some younger American distilleries making exceptional apple spirits. We recommend St. George’s apple brandy or Clear Creek apple eau de vie.
If you prefer a tart drink, keep the grenadine to a minimum. Recipes call for either lemon juice or lime juice, though lemons seemed like the natural choice, and have yet to let us down. Ultimately, it’s a simple matter of preference.