It’s the 4th of July, and here’s a cocktail to enjoy on the holiday. They say there’s nothing more American than apple pie, but what about a cocktail made with one of the spirits enjoyed by the founding fathers, applejack? This spirit was used to pay road workers during the colonial period in New Jersey, and was a particular favorite of George Washington’s, but is oft neglected these days. Applejack is nearly identical in taste of apple brandy, or Calvados, an apple brandy made in specific region of France. Applejack is traditionally different from other brandies made from apple cider, because it is concentrated through freeze distillation rather than evaporation distillation common to most other spirits. At its most basic, apple cider would be left out in the winter and the water would separate and freeze at the top of the pan or barrel, a process called “jacking” which gives this spirit its name. This would be scooped out, and the remaining liquid left to go through a number of additional freezes, each one increasing the alcohol content in the remaining cider until you ended up with a distilled spirit. Not all modern applejacks are distilled through the freezing method, but the results are the same: a sweet, smooth, brandy-like drink.
This noble spirit serves as the base for the Appleseed, whose recipe is as follows:
- 2 parts applejack
- 1 part amaretto
- 1/4 part Stirrings brand ginger liqueur (quite a different ginger liqueur than the subtle Domaine de Canton featured in some other drinks here. Nothing subtle here, just a lot of biting, spicy ginger flavor)
- 1/2 part unfiltered apple juice or cider
All ingredients are combined in a mixing glass and stirred without ice, and then poured over ice into an old-fashioned glass and lightly stirred again to chill.
The Appleseed is all about the applejack, the fruit from which it comes. The amaretto and ginger spice it up, and add a bit of further complexity to the drink, not to mention a bit of extra sweetness. Fair warning, for those of you that don’t like sweet drinks, this one may not be for you. If you’d like to have a go at this one, but cut the sweetness a bit, I’d suggest dropping the amaretto portion down to 1/2 part, and potentially upping the applejack to 2.5 or even 3 parts. Those adjustments will result in a less sweet drink, though you’ll lose some of the background flavors in return for a more pronounced taste of applejack.