Fall is approaching. The weather is starting to become a bit cooler. Thoughts of the boardwalk and ice cream give way to those of hayrides and pumpkins. I no longer sweat out half my body weight while I wait for the subway every morning. And one of my favorite fruits happens to be in season--the apple.
I have a big, thick bartender's recipe book with thousands of drinks in it. One of the spirits that keeps popping up over and over again is Applejack--a blend of 35% apple infused brandy and 65% neutral spirits. Until recently, this was seen as a frivolous purchase. A luxury on a par with lighting an expensive cigar with a hundred dollar bill or buying a couple of endangered condors and making them fight to the death. If it were cheap, everyone would do it, but I'm not made of money.
Then I started to get bored with my everyday cocktails. (note: "everyday cocktails" is just an expression. I do not drink everyday. That should keep my parents from hosting an intervention.) I was starting to get sick of these perfectly good drink recipes just staring me in the face, taunting me with their amazing potential. Then I thought about you, the reader. I am a regular contributor to this blog. I owe it to you to carpe diem. To explore strange new pours. To seek out new drinks and new boozy libations. To boldly mix what no man has mixed before.
We picked up a bottle of Applejack in Pennsylvania because we were there and it happened to be a dollar off. It ran us a cool $13.99, much more reasonable than a bottle of Courvoisier which can cost twice as much. When we got it back home, I tried a little out of the bottle as a control sample. Regular readers know I'm a scientist, damn it. I was pleased to find that the apple flavor was subtle and didn't mask the pleasantness of the brandy. Though it has the same alcoholic content as many cognacs, it was a lot less intense. I know when I put my nose too deep into a snifter of Courvoisier, it burns my nostrils a little.
The first drink I made for Heather was an Apple Cart, involving Applejack, lemon, and Grand Marnier. It was good, though I probably went a little heavy on the lemon. Heather had no complaints though and drank it with glee. She's a fan of lemon after all. For myself, I made an Apple Swizzle--Applejack, rum, lime, sugar and a dash of bitters. I figured since we were transitioning from summer to fall, both should be represented in my drink. I get the summery vibe of a rum swizzle with the pleasant fall quality of apple.
The following night, we cracked the Applejack open again and had two more. I went the classy route and made an Applejack Manhattan. It's similar to a regular manhattan except that Applejack replaces whiskey and it calls for orange bitters. I don't have orange bitters so I just used my Angostura. This was less festive than my swizzle but still a lot of fun. Heather asked me for a Jack Rose, a drink she saw on Death & Company's website. It's very similar to the Apple Cart but it's sweetened with grenadine instead of Grand Marnier and the Applejack to lemon ratio is a bit higher. Heather enjoyed the Jack Rose more. It had a ruby color to it and tastes reminiscent of a cosmo--though none of the same ingredients are used. I used apple slices for garnish on all of these drinks. I felt that I would be remiss in not doing so.
This bottle of Applejack boasts that the company started making it way back in 1698. It then goes on to say, "Around 1760, George Washington discovered this unique beverage, asked for and received the Laird family recipe and soon introduced Applejack to the Virginia colony." I'd like to think that George Washington and I have a lot in common: Our love of Applejack for example. Because most of my knowledge of American history comes from liquor bottles, matchbooks and the movie The Patriot, I'm pretty sure we're two peas in a pod.