Jack Rose Cocktail

There are various origin stories of the Jack Rose Cocktail. Some attribute it to a colorful and slightly nefarious individual named Jack Rose, others to Joseph Rose a Newark bartender who once held the title of “World Champion Mixologist”. Another story has the cocktail named after the Jacquemot Rose varietal because of its color. Regardless of its origins, it is probably the most popular cocktail which uses Applejack.


2 ounces applejack

1 ounce lime juice

1/2 ounce grenadine


Shake with ice.

Strain into a cocktail glass.


Benjamin D. 26 Jun 2012
11:35 am

Hi Robert,

I was wondering, what exactly is the difference between the process of making Applejack vs. Calvados? Can I substitute one for the other? For whatever bizarre reason, calvados seems to be easier to find. Keep up the good work!

8stringfan 26 Jun 2012
11:38 am

This is an interesting one.  I’ve noticed a lot of variations on the portions in this drink, and even some recipes calling for lemon juice instead of lime.  I’ve used the ratio you provided here and I found it too sour, with no real apple flavor but loads of lime juice sour and bitterness.  Folks I served it to also felt it was far too sour.  After toying around with various recipes, I settled on 2:1/2:1/2 ratio.  I think that ratio produces a very bright, sweet/sour, and decently complex fruit flavor highlighting both the sour citrus and the subtle apple flavors.

zach 26 Jun 2012
11:41 am

Hey Robert - I recently came across another version of the Jack Rose in the Meehan’s PDT cocktail book which you may have seen as well.  It calls for 2oz Laird’s apple brandy (rather than applejack), 3/4oz lemon (rather than lime), 3/4oz grenadine.  This apparently came from Boothby’s The World’s Drinks and How to Mix Them (1908).  It makes for a nice variation.

TheBalch 26 Jun 2012
12:13 pm

Hi Mr. Hess,

Is the applejack bottled in bond?

Ian J. Lauer 26 Jun 2012
1:42 pm

Zach: The PDT recipe is my favorite, as well (the decision came after much taste-testing). I prefer lemon with apple brandy, but to each his own.

TheBalch: The applejack is not bottled in bond, but Laird’s 100-proof apple brandy is. The applejack is cut with neutral spirits, smoothing it out but diluting the flavor a bit. If you can get your hands on the bonded brandy or their 7.5 year-old brandy (nice to sip on its own), do so. Both make a wonderful Jack Rose, though the bonded makes for a brusque and bracing drink.

Anybody tried this with calvados, as Benjamin mentioned? Think I’ll go try that out…

- Ian

Dave Stolte 26 Jun 2012
3:03 pm

One of my favorites, Robert!

I stumbled across an interesting idea for the origin of the Jack Rose while I was researching the Wild-Eyed Rose: http://www.homebarbasics.com/wild-eyed-rose/

Long story short, the Wild-Eyed Rose was created by Hugo Ensslin in 1913 and its name is a riff on the popular tune of the day, “My Wild Irish Rose.” The Jack Rose came along a few years later; it’s the same drink, just made with Applejack instead of Irish whiskey. I think there may be a good case for genetic paternity there…

Nucleozoid 26 Jun 2012
7:11 pm

I prefer to use the Lairds 7 1/2 year old apple brandy, since the bottled in bond Apple Jack gives my wife and I an immediate headache after the second drink.  Through trial and error we have have found the following recipe works best for us:

1 1/2 oz Lairds 7 1/2 year old apple brandy
3/4 oz simple syrup
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz real grenadine

The Jack Rose is one of our favorite drinks!

Thanks Robert

zach 27 Jun 2012
8:43 am

Ian - agree, definitely like the lemon, especially with the higher proof and more flavorful brandy vs applejack.

Robert Hess 27 Jun 2012
11:02 am

Applejack Vs. Calvados
Both products are distillations of fermented cider. The types of apples used are slightly different, but I don’t feel that this is a significant issue. Calvados is also aged, while I don’t believe (Laird’s) Applejack is. (Laird’s) Applejack is also a blended product, combining “apple brandy” with neutral spirits. (Laird’s) Apple brandy however is aged, not blended, and they have a “Bottled In Bond” version which is 100 proof.

Apple “Jack” gets its name from “Jacking”, which is the process of distilling a fermented product through freezing. You put the fermented product (cider, beer, wine, etc) out in the freezing winter air, and the water will freeze, but the alcohol won’t. So you simple skim off the ice that forms, and through this process increase the concentration of alcohol. A critical difference between this and the normal distillation process, is that the stuff that doesn’t freeze is not only the “good” alcohols, but the “bad” ones as well… the ones that you really don’t want to drink. So freeze distillation will produce not just a poorer quality product, but also one which could technically be considered poisonous. So I wouldn’t recommend it.

From a substitution point, you can most definately substitute between Applejack, Apple Brandy, and Calvados, much the same way you can substitute between Bourbon, Rye, and Blended whiskey… of course since each product has a differerent flavor characteristic, the resulting drink will be slightly different as well.


Robert Hess 27 Jun 2012
11:10 am

Ratios and Variations…
If you look hard enough, you’ll find that almost any cocktail out there will come in a wide variety of various recipes. There are few (any?) recipes which are consistently and constantly made with a tightly agreed upon recipe. In my early days of drink exploration the Sidecar was one which caused me a lot of confusion with it’s sometimes wide variation of ratios. Later, the Mai Tai was one which really confounded me, and I spent quite a bit of time trying to dig into it to figure out what the heck was going on (this was in the wee-dawn of the internet, so not a lot of information was available at my fingertips). I’ve also got a friend who swears that the secret to making the perfect margarita is using lemon juice instead of lime.

The apple jack recipe I am using here, is one that I encounterd a fair amount, including being what David Wondrich posits as the right way to make the drink. I like it because it is on the tart side, and I sort of equate that to the tart snap of a fresh apple. But there is nothing wrong with adjusting the ratios a bit to sweeten it up a little bit of that provides you with a better balance. A straight forward “daiquiri” style ratio (2, 3/4, 3/4) would be a good place to start.


Robert Hess 27 Jun 2012
11:11 am


In the PDT book they are essentially taking the “Daiquiri” ratio (2, 3/4, 3/4) and slapping this on the Jack Rose. Not the “wrong” thing to do by any means.


Robert Hess 27 Jun 2012
11:13 am

Lemon vs. Lime…

I think one of the reasons I prefer lime here, is because frankly (Laird’s) Apple Jack (the “blended” version) doesn’t have quite the same apple depth that Calvados or their Apple brandy does. And so I prefer lime, because it brings some extra depth to the drink.


blair frodelius 27 Jun 2012
1:42 pm

One bit of history that no one has mentioned is that the Jack Rose used to be considered one of the classics alongside the Martini, Old-Fashioned, Manhattan, Daiquiri and Sidecar.  I think it definitely deserves a comeback in the 21st century.



zach 27 Jun 2012
1:58 pm

Robert - I hear you on the lime with applejack, a simple preference of mine is to use the stronger, and as you mentioned earlier - deeper, more flavorful, apple brandy.  Along with the slightly altered ratios it does work pretty well….especially with a nice homemade grenadine, best-


Michael S. 27 Jun 2012
7:42 pm

Thanks for doing this one, Robert.  To my palate a ratio of 3:1:1 is just right, and I do prefer lime juice, which seems to me to pair better with the regular Laird’s applejack than lemon (though my wife prefers lemon juice in her jack roses).

Zakhia 14 Dec 2013
7:25 am

Excellent Cocktail. But too tart with the 4:2:1 ratio, the limes in Ghana then to be very sour, So tried the 4:1:1 ratio with Calvados which was excellent and well blanced, thanks it really is a great cocktail.

Joaquim Dias 11 Aug 2014
8:09 am

Hi Robert,

I have a question that actually is bothering me for quite some time, and since I saw you comment “A critical difference between this [jacking] and the normal distillation process, is that the stuff that doesn’t freeze is not only the “good” alcohols, but the “bad” ones as well… the ones that you really don’t want to drink”, I guess you may answer it.

Is drinking alcohol from drinks based on good quality spirits (e.g., a sidecar) “healthier” than drinking the same amount of alcohol from drinks based on fermented drinks (e.g., a glass of wine)? From the “good alcohols vs. bad alcohols” perspective, of course.

Thanks Robert

Robert Hess 11 Aug 2014
1:10 pm


That is a very good question. Let me see how well I can answer it…

One side of this is that while methanol is a poison, one of the antidotes for it is ethanol. The danger of jacking is more about having a crude spirit which has a lot of congeners in it (in addition to the methanol) that make you feel that much worse the next day. The problem also is that you are concentrating these ingredients as well. The real danger comes in when somebody does real distillation, just poorly, and gets a concentration of methanol that can be poisonous. Worse yet is if somebody tries to up the proof of their distillate with methanol, which was common during prohibition by unscrupulous “suppliers”.

But yes, common fermentation does result in not just ethanol, but methanol, propanol, butanol, glycols, ethyl acetate, etc. Essentially the whole ball of wax, some of which it is the distillers goal to “cut” out of their distillate. This basically just means that getting the same amount of alcohol from your beer, as you do from your Old Fashioned, will probably leave you feeling a little worse the next morning. But at the same time you are also getting more water/liquid, which helps keep things in balance to.


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