Cinnamon Apple Manhattan

apple cinnamon manhattan cropped

This week’s #midweekmanhattan is made Christmas-appropriate through the addition of cinnamon and applejack:

  1. Add 50ml rye whiskey, 25ml applejack, 15ml cinnamon vermouth and two dashes of bitters to a mixing glass with cubed ice.
  2. Stir well and strain into a chilled coupe.
  3. Garnish with a dried apple slice and cinnamon stick.

To make the cinnamon infused vermouth, add ten cinnamon sticks to a 750ml bottle of sweet vermouth and leave to infuse for 2-3 days.

To make the apple chips:

  1. Preheat your oven to 95’C.
  2. Slice an apple into thin slices and place in a 8:1 water to lemon juice solution for half an hour (to prevent browning).
  3. Place on a baking tray and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Bake for 1-2 hours until golden brown.
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Autumnal Old Fashioned

Photo courtesy of santheo. Some rights reserved (Flickr, CC)

Just a short seasonal post to mark the end of British Summer Time. As the evenings draw in and we begin the inexorable march towards Christmas it’s always useful to have a mellow spiced drink on hand to warm your toes after a long day of present shopping.

We start with a simple variation of the classic Old Fashioned:

  1. Add equal parts bourbon and applejack, a barspoon of honey and three dashes of your most autumnal bitters to a mixing glass of ice.
  2. Stir well and strain into an old fashioned glass.
  3. Garnish with a twist of orange peel.

On an exceptionally cold evening, or when the spirit of adventure takes you, this drink is also very good served warm and (in larger quantities). Combine the whiskey, applejack, honey and bitters with some winter spices (perhaps star anise, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, or cardamom) and orange and lemon wheels in a saucepan and bring to a low simmer. Lower the heat and simmer gently for twenty minutes. Ladle into a mug and serve steaming hot.

The Big Apple

Photo courtesy of mgarbowski, some rights reserved

This week’s #midweekmanhattan features applejack in place of the whiskey (yes I just bought a bottle, what of it?  It’s my blog…).  The Applejack Manhattan, also known as the Big Apple is an ever so simple Manhattan variant which pays tribute to the classic colonial homebrewed apple spirit.

The deep, rich, smoked taste of applejack doesn’t provide much distinction from a classic bourbon Manhattan, but some of the floral apple notes can be found, and provide a slightly fresher nose.  The taste is of dried fruit, apricots and brandy, which marries well with the herbal notes of the vermouth and ties in nicely with the orange bitters:

  1. Add a large measure of applejack, a measure of sweet vermouth and two dashes of orange bitters to a mixing glass of ice.
  2. Stir well and strain into a martini glass.
  3. Garnish with a cherry.

Jack Rose

Photo courtesy of Michael Dietsch, some rights reserved

The Jack Rose manages to neatly combine two things that have been on my mind for some time.  The sourcing of a bottle of Laird’s Applejack, and my study of ‘Fiesta’ (The Sun Also Rises) by Ernest Hemingway.

Applejack is a Calvados-style apple brandy, which has claims to being the oldest American spirit due to its roots in the colonial period.  It is made by ‘jacking’ (freeze distilling) cider, and may have been discovered by North American apple farmers who found that by periodically removing the ice that formed on their cider, they could create a ‘jacked up’ drink as a result of the concentration of the remaining unfrozen alcohol.

Because ‘jacking’ could be done without any complicated distilling equipment, a rough version of applejack (and by rough we mean head-splitting) could be formed by anyone with a surplus of apples in a cold climate.  Given its rough heritage, it is perhaps not surprising that applejack has been supplanted in popularity by the more cultured Calvados and traditional apple brandies.  Although applejack is no longer made by leaving cider out to freeze, it does only consist of 35% apple brandy to 65% neutral grain spirit (effectively vodka), so it is easy to get snobby about its composition when compared to even its sibling Straight Apple Brandy which is 100 percent proof and 100% apple-based.  Perhaps as a result, applejack is rarely found on the shelves of even the most comprehensive booze vendors in the UK, and tracking it down became somewhat of a quest.  Once found, however, I found it intriguing for its history, its promise and its fruit and butterscotch/caramel notes.

As for Hemingway, well, ever since the Death in the Afternoon, I have been itching to read some more of his work, and recently picked up a copy of The Sun Also Rises on recommendation from a friend.  One thing that struck me about the opening 90 pages or so (aside from the compelling imagery of Paris in the Roaring Twenties and the unadulterated coquettish nature of Brett) is the sheer volume of alcohol that is consumed.  From the Fines à l’eau (cognac and water), to the whiskey (with or without soda), via the Pernod and the wine, Jake Barnes and his band of lost souls drink their way through all that mid-1920s Paris had to offer.

Of these various libations, one drink stood out as somewhat of an unknown quantity.  The Jack Rose has many plausible origins, with the Jack either referring to the base ingredient, the Jacqueminot rose, Jack Laird, wrestling bartender Frank J May, Bald Jack Rose a 19th century New York gangster, or a 20th century brand of small cigars.  Of these, the gangster story is most widely-renowned, and I recommend you have a good read of the story of old Jack Rose and the Becker-Rosenthal trial as you sip the protaganist’s favourite tipple:

  1. Add a large measure of applejack, a measure of lemon juice, a 1/4 measure of grenadine and two dashes of bitters to a shaker of ice.
  2. Shake well and strain into a martini glass.
  3. Garnish with a wedge of lemon.

A wedge?!  Well, it is an oldie…

Calvados or another apple brandy can be used in place of applejack which can be a little hard to find in the UK.  Sources also differ as to whether lemon or lime juice should be used, so feel free to experiment with that too.  If you find the lemon wedge gets in the way when drinking, a slice of apple or a cherry is also an acceptable garnish.