The Jack Rose is a cheerily pink cocktail that was all the rage back in the 20s and 30s. Despite the frivolity of its color, its flavor immediately announces it as a serious drink, worthy of attention. The masculinity-conscious man who would shun it due to its girlish hue foolishly limits himself. As my authority may not be sufficient to establish this point, I yield the floor to none other than Ernest Hemingway, in his classic The Sun Also Rises:

At five o’clock I was in the Hotel Crillon waiting for Brett. She was not there, so I sat down and wrote some letters. They were not very good letters but I hoped their being on Crillon stationery would help them. Brett did not turn up, so about quarter to six I went down to the bar and had a Jack Rose with George the barman. (Ch. VI)

Of course, it could be that the choice of drink is supposed to be symbolic of Jake’s lack of manful fortitude — I’ll take my chances.

1 1/2 oz. applejack

1/2 oz. lemon or lime juice

1/2 oz. grenadine

Shake or stir on ice, serve straight up with a lime garnish

Applejack is brandy made with apples, but it is not called Calvados because it is made in the United States, and Calvados can only be made in France. Compared to Calvados, applejack has a more whiskeyish flavor. It is also more affordable. Laird’s applejack costs about $20 a bottle and seems to be somewhat easy to find.

Applejack happens to be close to this blog’s heart thanks to its role in the ruin of Richard Whitney, president of the New York Stock Exchange in the era of the Jack Rose:

Whitney’s dishonesty was of a casual, rather juvenile sort. Associates of the day have since explained it as a result of an unfortunate failure to realize that the rules, which were meant for other people, also applied to him. Much more striking than Whitney’s dishonesty was the clear fact that he was one of the most disastrous businessmen in modern history. Theft was almost a minor incident pertaining to his business misfortunes.

In the twenties the Wall Street firm of Richard Whitney and Company was an unspectacular bond house with a modest business. Whitney apparently felt that it provided insufficient scope for his imagination, and with the passing years he moved on to other enterprises… He had also become interested in the distilling of alcoholic beverages, mainly applejack, in New Jersey. Nothing is so voracious as a losing business, and eventually Whitney had three of them… When one loan came due he was forced to replace it with another and to borrow still more for the interest on those outstanding. Beginning in 1933 his stock exchange firm was insolvent, although this did not become evident for some five years…

In 1933, Richard Whitney and Company… had invested in between ten and fifteen thousand shares of Distilled Liquors Corporation, the New Jersey manufacturer of applejack and other intoxicants…

Unhappily, popular enthusiasm for the products of the firm, even in the undiscriminating days following repeal, was remarkably slight. The firm made no money and by June 1936 the price of the stock was down to 11. This drop had a disastrous effect on its value as collateral, and the unhappy Whitney tried to maintain its value by buying more of it. (He later made the claim that he wanted to provide the other investors in the company with a market for their stock, which if true meant that he was engaging in one of the most selfless acts since the death of Sydney Carton.)… Mention has been made of the tendency of people in this period to swindle themselves. Whitney, in his effort to support the stock of Distilled Liquors Corporation, unquestionably emerged as the Ponzi of financial self-deception. (J.K. Galbraith, The Great Crash, pp. 166-167)

Cheers, to better luck and better judgment than Richard Whitney’s!

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The Santa Rosa

by Jen on July 23, 2010

To celebrate the weekend and the return of Madmen this Sunday, I would like to share Will’s most recent cocktail creation: The Santa Rosa.

The back story:

We watched Madmen as a marathon last winter, having only discovered it when my mother introduced me to it on a family trip.  For a month, we did nothing else but watch Madmen.  We were intrigued by Don’s usual drink: the Old Fashioned, and also by Betty Draper’s Gimlet and the martinis that the Fat Cats on the show have during their decadent three-martini lunches.  Also, the casseroles, but we quickly discovered that casseroles contain a lot of cheese and let that phase go by without too much hubbub.  The cocktail obsession, however, stuck with us, and Will started rapidly acquiring the sundry liquors, elixers and various bitters needed to try anything and everything, with an emphasis on the cocktails from the days of yore.

Will quickly tired of other people’s recipes and started to experiment in mixology, sometimes with disastrous results.  The Santa Rosa is his first cocktail creation that’s ready for prime time (though he also has come up with his own interesting twists on some of the classics!).

Shake or stir the following and serve on ice in an old-fashioned glass.  The garnish of a sprig of cilantro adds a wonderful complexity and tingles your taste buds.

  • 1 1/2 oz bourbon
  • 1 1/2 oz fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1/8 oz Benedictine
  • 1/8 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/8 oz grenadine
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters if you have the large bottle, 2 dashes if dealing with the small bottle

The 1/8 oz is pretty hard to measure–most recipes would just call it “one dash” to avoid stressing you out. Don’t sweat it if your measure is a little off.

How Will created it:

The Santa Rosa began as a way to get rid of some quickly aging but still good grapefruit.  Bourbon was a natural choice for the liquor pairing because they both have such strong favors.  He considered adding simple syrup to sweeten it (grapefruit is very sour), but dismissed this option as obvious and boring.

Instead he added a little Benedictine–a very strong, complex liqueur. The drink tasted better, but still a little sour and astringent.  Will added Angostura bitters, comme il faut (because that’s what you do). He added grenadine, and the drink was no longer sour, and had a lovely red color.  But still there lingered the astringent bourbon finish!

He thought long and hard about what would make it smoother, and decided that sweet vermouth would be good for that.  He added a little bit, and liked the result… a lot!

Note:  In a pinch, Drambuie could be substituted for Benedictine.  They cost about the same (about $30 a bottle), but Benedictine is hard to find.
Also note:  Many of these ingredients–in fact all of these ingredients, will be consumed at a very slow pace.  You may balk at the initial investment, but we find we get a lot of joy in sharing our varied cocktail menu with guests (and our taste buds!) and you may too.

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