With its pink color and its half-ounce of grenadine, the Jack Rose might seem like a syrupy party drink. It’s definitely not! The Jack Rose is sweet and tart, yes, but with a rich, complex flavor from its inspired pairing of apples and pomegranates.
Read below for the full recipe!
2 oz Apple Brandy
1/2 oz Lemon or Lime Juice
1/2 oz Grenadine
Combine the ingredients, shake with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and enjoy.
Whoever mixed up the first Jack Rose, and complemented the smooth, oaky tartness of apple spirits with the sweet-tartness of pomegranate-based grenadine was really on to something. The grenadine is definitely not around just to make the drink sweeter or give it color (though those help too).
The Jack Rose was traditionally made with applejack, but stick with true aged apple brandy here. There are some spirits that call themselves applejack around, but I don’t know of any that’s truly jacked, or freeze distilled.
Lemon or lime? I don’t think it matters much, honestly. The oldest recipe in print, from 1905, calls for lemon, but Jacques Straub’s 1914 Drinks calls for lime. I don’t notice much of a difference, except that lemon maybe creates a slightly mellower cocktail.
Much more important is choice of spirits. A mellow, delicate spirit, such as Laird’s 7 1/2 year apple brandy, will let the pomegranate stand out. If you want the flavor of apples to really shine, like I do, try a really bold spirit, like Clear Creek’s 8 year eau de vie de pomme, which puckers with tart apple flavor.
The name? Maybe from the applejack and its color (boring). Maybe from the jacqueminot rose, which shares a remarkably similar dark pink color (boring). Maybe from Frank May, a bartender to whom the drink was first attributed in 1905, who went by the nickname Jack Rose (probably true, but still boring). Or maybe it was named after Baldy Jack Rose, the gambler and gangster whose gambling den, the Rosebud, had a bar where the Jack Rose may have been invented. Unlikely, but exciting!
Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper