- Applejack Brandy
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The Jack Rose is a truly classic cocktail with origins dating back to the end of the 19th century. Its applejack brandy base starts with a subtle fruitiness, joined by the fruitier still sweet-and-sour combo of grenadine and lime. The apple notes make it a great drink for the fall and winter, but its refreshing citrus and pomegranate lets it shine year-round, especially in the heat of Savannah.
While the Jack Rose doesn’t quite sit in the upper echelon of popular classic cocktails like the Daiquiri or a French 75, it deserves its place on any good menu of historic cocktails. It even featured as one of the “six basic drinks” by David A. Embury in 1948’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. Some say its name comes from its featured spirit, applejack brandy, and its rose-tinged color. Others claim the name is inspired by particular people.
Many cocktails have murky origins, but it seems nobody can agree on where the Jack Rose recipe or name came from. The name is sometimes attributed as an inspiration from a gangster at the center of a famous 1912 murder trial, “Bald Jack” Rose, but also to a Jersey City bartender named Frank “Jack Rose” May. Two different club stewards in different cities, John Coleman in Philadelphia and Martin Curry in Tuxedo, New York, are credited with its creation.
Wherever it comes from, the Jack Rose’s biggest claim to fame is nearly single-handedly keeping applejack alive in the cocktail world.
The story supported in print is that a bartender named Frank Haas was famous for whipping them up at the bar owned by Fred Eberlin, as reported in a New York Press article from 1899. The Jack Rose is a lesson in cocktail evolution. Back when Haas was making them, the recipe ended up printed as a combination of applejack brandy, raspberry, and lemon juice. Within a decade, the latter ingredients were replaced with the trendier grenadine and lime.
Wherever it comes from, the Jack Rose’s biggest claim to fame is nearly single-handedly keeping applejack alive in the cocktail world. Applejack may not come to mind when you think of spirits, but it’s actually one of the oldest spirits in the United States. Founded in New Jersey, Laird & Company is the oldest distillery in the country. Their recipe for applejack goes back centuries and was consistently ordered by George Washington himself.
The Jack Rose may be a hallmark of the early 1900s, but the spirit at its heart is synonymous with Colonial America. There are few better ways to drink like a Founding Father!