Bitters, check. I wasn't until very recently that I added Laird's applejack to the must-have list for my autumn home bar. Here's why I think it's worth squirreling away a bottle this fall:
- Tastes Change with the Seasons. As the days grow shorter and colder, we all tend to crave drinks that look and taste autumnal. I find myself turning away from the crisp gin cocktails that were so cooling in summer and reaching instead for smoky single-malt scotches, sweet and spicy Manhattans, and other warming drinks with deep amber hues. Applejack fits the bill.
- Apple Pie, Apple Crisp, Apple Sauce, Apple Cider - Apple Whiskey? Laird's applejack is essentially an apple-flavored whiskey. (Note: just so there's no confusion, Laird's makes straight apple brandy too.) A balanced blend of 35 percent apple brandy and 65 percent neutral grain spirits, Laird's applejack plays well with sweet apple-friendly flavors such as honey, maple syrup, and brown sugar; spicy ones such as cinnamon and cloves; and bright, tart accents such as lemon.
- Thanksgiving's Just Around the Corner. This American spirit has good Thanksgiving cred: "cyder spirits" date back to colonial times, when early settlers put the Northeast's plentiful apple crop to use.
- It's Inexpensive. A 750 ml bottle carries a price tag of under $20 (usually somewhere in the $16-$19 range). While it doesn't have the rich complexity of well-aged whiskey or the fruity depth of straight apple brandy, Laird's applejack makes a good value-priced mixer.
- It's Versatile. Use it in a recipe specifically calling for an apple-flavored spirit, such as the Jack Rose. Or get creative and swap it out for whiskey to make an apple-y Old Fashioned. Or mix yourself an Applecar by substituting Laird's applejack for Cognac in your next Sidecar.
- It Makes a Fine Hot Toddy. Okay, this is really just a subset of reason #5, but I thought it deserved a separate mention of its own. Laird's applejack makes a really nice hot toddy with just a shot of the the spirit, a bit of boiling water from the kettle, a squeeze of lemon, and a dash of something rich and sweet like honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar. Good for warming your hands and lifting your spirits on cold, rainy fall days.