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jack rose cocktail

By Bob Lipinski

Laird’s is America’s first and oldest commercial distillery. Records indicate that William Laird, a County Fyfe Scotsman, settled in Monmouth County, N.J., and produced applejack as early as 1698. In 1780, Robert Laird, a Revolutionary War soldier who served under George Washington, established Laird’s Distillery (License #1) in the tiny community of Scobeyville, N.J.

Applejack is an 80-proof brandy made from apples such as Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Rome, Winesap, Fuji, Stayman, Pippins, Granny Smith, Gala, Macintosh and Jonathan. It is estimated that about 7,000 pounds of apples are needed to make one 50-gallon barrel of apple brandy and about six pounds are needed to make one 750-ml (25.4-ounce) bottle of 80-proof applejack. Laird’s also makes a 100-proof apple brandy labeled Jersey Lighting, which is made from about 20 pounds of apples! By the way, applejack was originally distilled from frozen fermented apple cider, a process called jacking.

Laird’s 80-proof applejack is a blend of 35 percent apple brandy and 66 percent neutral grain spirits. Under U.S. law, it must be aged for two years, but Laird’s is aged for a minimum of three years in charred oak barrels. It is dry and full of deep, rich apple aroma and flavor. Very smooth in the mouth with a caramel finish and an ultra-smooth finish (meaning no burn).

Jersey Lighting is a term dating back to the mid-1800s for applejack, which was made in New Jersey. The brandy is clear in color with an unmistakable perfumed aroma of cider followed by a rich, dry apple taste, subtle, yet full of flavor. I like it either in a brandy snifter or sometimes on the rocks while listening to relaxing music. Applejack is also perfect for hot apple drinks and cocktails, such as Jack Rose and the Pink Lady.

The Jack Rose Cocktail (see recipe below) was supposedly named after “Bald Jack” Rose, a gangster who turned state’s evidence after the killing of Herman Rosenthal in a bar in Times Square in 1912. The Pink Lady Cocktail (see recipe below) was named after a play in 1911 of the same name and starring Hazel Dawn. In 1944, the Pink Lady enjoyed a revival in the play “Happy Birthday” in which Helen Hayes danced on the bar top after several drinks, including the Pink Lady.

Laird’s applejack is excellent for basting or creating a glaze for your turkey and is an essential ingredient for stuffing, which is generally made with apples. Simply add 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup applejack to your stuffing prior to cooking. That’s it… “Here’s to Apples.”

Jack Rose Cocktail

INGREDIENTS: 2 ounces applejack

1 ounce lemon juice

1/2 ounce grenadine

DIRECTIONS: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Pink Lady Cocktail
Pink Lady Cocktail

Pink Lady Cocktail

INGREDIENTS: 1-1/2 ounces gin 1/2 ounce applejack 1/2 ounce lemon juice 1/4 ounce grenadine 1 egg white

DIRECTIONS: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR [email protected].