Dempsey Cocktail

Named for the legendary boxer Jack Dempsey, this cocktail may not be for everyone, but its distinctive combination of flavors could make devotees out of a few. Like its namesake, this one hits hard.

3 oz gin

1 oz applejack

1 tsp absinthe

1 tsp grenadine

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass half filled with ice and stir thoroughly. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The Dempsey Cocktail

Swan Song

The Swan Song is a simple, tasty drink good for any time of day or night. The flavor is fruity and woody, but strong enough to ward off any suspicions that you might be sipping a “girly drink.” When mixing the Swan Song, we used an armagnac for our brandy. Just as cognac is brandy produced within the Cognac region of France (and according to certain legal standards) armagnac is brandy from the Armagnac region. The better your ingredients, the better your cocktail, and the Swan Song doesn’t disappoint.

1 part brandy

1 part applejack

1 part orange juice

a dash of grenadine

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Swan Song

Bee’s Knees

One of the wonderful classic cocktails that can only be made with Applejack is the Bee’s Knees, a name that is as apropos as it is fun to say. We found this recipe in the Bartender’s Guide by Trader Vic. Ol’ Vic was the king of the west coast Tiki bar scene from the 1940s through the 60s. You know, back when Tiki bars were un-ironically, and unabashedly cool as hell. Though the debate still rages, Trader Vic is also one of two men who claimed to have invented the Mai Tai.

Now we’re going to post two slightly different recipes here. The first is Trader Vic’s recipe and you’ll notice that the volume is smaller, as was generally the case at the time. But more important than that, Vic’s recipe calls for honey. Now we tried this recipe, and found that even after vigorous shaking (we’re talking a full minute of all-out, man-on-shaker aggression) the honey ended up in a glob at the bottom of the shaker.

So after some experimentation we developed a second recipe that uses honey syrup. This is the same as simple syrup, but made with honey rather than sugar. (Find out how to make simple syrup here.) Due to the change though, we shifted the proportions of the recipe and that’s what we’ve posted second. The result is an excellent cocktail that balances sweet and tart, with a hint of apple in the finish. The perfect cocktail for the transition from summer to autumn.

Trader Vic’s Bee’s Knees

1 oz applejack

1 oz lemon juice

1 tsp honey

 

Boozehound Bee’s Knees

1 part applejack

1 part lemon juice

1 part honey syrup

Combine all the ingredients into a shaker half filled with ice and shake vigorously until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Pro Tip: Be sure to make your honey syrup from equal parts honey and water. It’s easy for this cocktail to end up overly tart.

The Bee's Knees

 

Applejack

When we discuss classic cocktails (or classic anything, really), heritage is a notion that is usually at the fore. What makes something classic, after all, is its ability to endure and affect society. When it comes to spirits, the top spot for American heritage is often attributed to bourbon, though we’ve discussed in the past that this is a post-prohibition phenomenon. Before prohibition all but wiped out the American liquor industry, rye whiskey was king. But before farmers and frontiersmen were able to turn wilderness into arable fields for grain, early American colonists drank applejack. Continue reading

Jack Rose

While applejack isn’t a common liquor anymore (Laird and Company is currently the leading brand and not too hard to find), it has a long and storied history that places it as the base spirit in many classic cocktails. The Jack Rose is a potent drink that’ll put hair on any boozehound’s chest.

2 1/2 oz  applejack

1 Tbs  lemon juice

2 tsp  grenadine

Pour all ingredients into a shaker two-thirds full of ice and shake well. Serve in a cocktail glass, preferably sitting down.

Corpse Reviver #1

It’s not uncommon for variations on a drink to be numbered, but the various Corpse Reviver drinks have very little in common aside from being popular in Victorian England as a hangover cure. This version yields a very potent cocktail, the sweet vermouth taking off just enough of the edge to make it sippable for the brave of heart and strong of will.

3 tbsp Brandy

1 1/2 tsp Sweet Vermouth

1 1/2 tsp Applejack

Pour the three ingredients into a mixing glass, stir well (about 30 seconds), and then strain into a cocktail glass.

The Highball

Many of the drinks that we feature on this blog (or plan to feature as our recipe index becomes a bit more extensive) are cocktails. But those certainly aren’t the only mixed drinks out there and one of the most common types of mixed drink is the highball.

A highball is any tall drink that mixes a base spirit with a carbonated beverage, which includes the Vodka Tonic, Gin Rickey, Rum and Cola, etc. Highballs are some of the most versatile drinks out there because the proportions can always be altered to your specific taste. Unlike a cocktail, which so often depends on a balance of competing flavors, a highball can always be customized depending on how dainty or robust the drinker is.

Another advantage of a highball is that you don’t need a shaker or mixing glass. Simply fill your serving glass (traditionally a highball glass) with ice, add your ingredients, stir, and then serve. The ease and simplicity (and lack of extra glasses or shakers to wash) make highballs a great option for parties. Plus, less liquor in a bigger drink makes it easier for guests to pace themselves.

Unfortunately, the highball is often the product of an, “I don’t want to taste my liquor so I’ll mix it with Mountain Dew” mentality. On the contrary, a good highball will allow you to enjoy the flavor of your favorite brand of gin, whiskey, or other spirit, while taking the edge off the alcohol.

To get you started, here’s a few of our favorite highball recipes:

Gin (or Vodka) and Tonic: This classic drink is very nearly the pinnacle of simplicity. Style never goes out of style, and neither will the Gin and Tonic. Garnish with a twist of lemon or lime.

Dark and Stormy: One of the lesser-known highballs, simply blend Dark Rum with Ginger Beer (not Ginger Ale, the distinction is important). Or, you could swap out the Rum for Vodka, add a splash of lime juice, and you’ve got a Moscow Mule.

Gin Rickey: A Rickey is any highball wherein a base spirit is mixed with soda water and a splash of lime juice. The most common variety is the Gin Rickey, but any liquor will do and the Applejack Rickey is also rather tasty.

Because the highball is so flexible and there are so many different sodas out there, there’s no reason to stick to the same old Jack and Coke every weekend. Go ahead and try your own combinations and let us know if you come up with anything particularly tasty.

-Matt