When I started writing about cocktails, I quickly got an email from a coworker of mine, Clint, who said, “Oh, you have to write about the Jack Rose. It’s my favorite!” So, Clint, here’s your wish, granted.
The Jack Rose is not named for those Titanic characters. Sorry! The best thing about cocktails, of course, are all of the stories that hover about the drinks, which are often completely erroneous because, hey, folks who are drinking are telling them. Alcohol doesn’t exactly equate with consistent storytelling. Anyway, there are a couple of stories as to how it was named: first, that it was named after the Jacquemont rose (the right proportion of grenadine gives it a rose color). Others say it was named for a gambler named Jack Rose (somehow, I can’t imagine a hard nosed gambler drinking this one), but more than likely it’s named for two of its ingredients: Applejack and Grenadine.
Applejack is one of the oldest American spirits: it’s a brandy made with apples that tastes, to me, like an apple whiskey. It’s considered one of the classic American spirits– it really took a downturn in the mid 20th century with the popularity of vodka, gin and whiskey. However, Laird’s makes it now– I bought mine at the Party Source, where it is sold with the brandies, on a bottom shelf (it took me a few seconds to find it). It’s relatively inexpensive, as well.
The other key ingredient to the Jack Rose is grenadine. Grenadine is traditionally made from pomegranate juice and sugar. Rose’s Grenadine, which is probably the most popular brand now, probably has never seen a pomegranate– it’s mostly high fructose corn syrup and artificial color. Yuck. So I went on a quick quest to find grenadine recipes. There are two processes: cold process and a process akin to making simple syrup. I ended up using the simple syrup process, which is essentially this:
1) Take a 16 oz bottle of POM pomegrante juice and simmer until reduced and thickened.
2) Add a cup of sugar (8 oz), and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
I took the Cupcake Project’s advice and poured it right back into my POM juice bottle, and it now sits in my freezer. It thaws pretty quickly, and keeps much longer that way.
The taste difference is huge– it’s not as sweet as Rose’s, and such a gorgeous color. I’ll try the cold-process next time I make it (apparently it’s quite a bit brighter in flavor, which makes sense).
So, now you have your Applejack and your grenadine– grab a couple of limes or lemons. Or, you ask? I’ve seen recipes that call for either. I prefer lime juice, it’s a little more mellow and not quite as tart. Tonic uses lime as well. Try it both ways and see which one you like. Here’s the recipe I use, amended for my taste from Rachel Maddow’s New Yorker video. You can experiment with more or less grenadine to your taste.
2 oz Applejack
3/4 oz lime juice
1/4 oz grenadine
Shake with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass (above, I used a champagne coupe).
If you read any Hemingway in high school, you might have read about the Jack Rose– it’s mentioned in The Sun Also Rises, one of my favorite Hemingway novels. Papa loved his cocktails! And, for your viewing pleasure, Rachel Maddow’s tutorial on making the Jack Rose.