Margaritas, Daiquiris, Whiskey Sours, Sidecars... With their perfect balance of tart and sweet, drinks belonging to the boozy, citrus-y sours family have always been some of my very favorites. But up until this week, there was one classic sour I still hadn't tried making at home: the Jack Rose cocktail.
With its cheery blush pink color and triple-fruit flavor, this drink is good for brightening up a dark winter night. Named for either a cultivated rose (the Jacqueminot) or a notorious New York crook (Mr. Jack Rose) - depending on which story you're in the mood to believe - it's made by combining an apple-flavored spirit, lemon or lime juice, and grenadine, a bar syrup made with pomegranate.
This is a drink with a little wiggle room. I consulted a few classic recipe books (The Savoy Cocktail Book, Gary Regan's The Joy of Mixology, Dale DeGroff's The Craft of the Cocktail, and Salvatore Calabrese's Classic Cocktails) and found a wide range in each mixologist's ratio of boozy:tart:sweet. Some recipes gave a choice of lemon or lime juice, while others favored one over the other.
I tend to prefer my drinks on the tarter side of things, so I kept the grenadine to a minimum (you might want to add more). I tried mixing one drink with lemon and one with lime, and found both were quite good, though I was partial to the lime (my husband preferred the lemon). I used the Laird's blended applejack I already had on hand at home, but found it didn't have all the apple oomph I wanted in this recipe. Next time, I'd probably seek out some Laird's straight bonded (a hard-to-find higher-proof version with more apple flavor), or use a Calvados, or an apple eau-de-vie instead.
Jack Rose Makes one cocktail
1 1/2 ounces applejack, apple brandy such as Calvados, or apple eau-de-vie 1 ounce lemon or lime juice 1/2 ounce grenadine syrup (or more, to taste)
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an optional apple slice and/or maraschino cherry.
Nora Maynard is a longtime home mixologist and an occasional instructor at NYC’s Astor Center. She is a contributor to The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food and Drink Industries and is the recipient of the American Egg Board Fellowship in culinary writing at the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow. She previously covered food and drink in film at The Kitchn in her weekly column, The Celluloid Pantry.