Pre-prohibition cocktails and modern twists on classics

Jack Rose

    Ingredients:

    2oz Applejack

    .75oz Lime Juice

    .5oz Grenadine

    Instructions:

    Add the applejack, lime juice and grenadine to a shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

    Notes:

    The combination of applejack, lime juice and grenadine sounds like a light and fruity cocktail and in a lot of ways it is just that. The smooth flavor of the applejack really sets a base on which the lime and grenadine permeate through with fruit and citrus notes. That being said, one aspect that really comes through in the Jack Rose is tart, taking a stronger role than expected. Depending on how sweet your grenadine is, the tartness will be tempered a bit with the sugar. If you make your own and prefer grenadine less sweet, the tart will really shine through. 


    • Some folks accent their recipe with a dash of bitters, which I also enjoy. I find Peychaud’s adds a little complexity without drastically changing the flavor.

    History:

    Another one full of history, the Jack Rose has unfortunately not weathered the test of time quite as well as some of the other classics. In David Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (1948), the Jack Rose is listed as one of the six basic cocktails, along side the Martini, Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Daiquiri and Sidecar. While the others have remained quite popular, the Jack Rose hasn’t gotten a fair shake. Thankfully, like many other classics, the Jack Rose has been making a resurgence at pre-prohibition style cocktail bars, exposing a new generation to this wonderful concoction.

    Rose lost all his hair (including eyebrows) after contracting typhoid at the age of 4, hence the name Baldy.

    Like many cocktails,  there are multiple tales describing the Jack Rose’s origins. Probably the most popular (and interesting) story is that it was either created by or named after a gambler/criminal named Jacob Rosenzweig, whose street name “Baldy Jack Rose.”  Rose, who ran a gambling establishment called The Rosebud, was being extorted by the head of NYPDs antigambling squad, Charles Becker.

    Jack Rose -- the Bronx - 7th Insp. Dist. (LOC)

    Jack Rose — the Bronx – 7th Insp. Dist. (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

    Another casino owner, Herman Rosenthal was also being extorted by Becker. Rosenthal went to the press in 1912, complaining about Becker’s greed (even though Rosenthal’s casinos were illegal). Shortly after the story went public, Rosenthal was gunned down. It was Baldy Rose who handled the contract, orchestrated the hit and hired the hit men.

    The Manhattan DA, Charles Whitman, who had plans to meet with Rosenthal prior to his murder, was sure that Becker ordered the hit. Baldy Rose testified against Becker in court in order to avoid jail time. Ultimately, Becker was convicted and executed while Rose walked.

    Applejack has been made in New Jersey by Laird & Company since 1870.

    While an interesting piece of history, the claim that this is the origin of the Jack Rose is likely untrue as this cocktail was mentioned prior to this crime in a 1905 issue of the National Police Gazette. The Gazette claims that a bartender in New Jersey, named Frank J. May, invented the Jack Rose. May’s nickname supposedly was Jack Rose, making this version the most plausible.

    Of course there are other ideas as to the Jack Rose’s origins. The Old Waldorf Astoria Barbook (1935 reprint) claims that the Jack Rose is:

     “So called because of its pink color, the exact shade of a Jacqueminot rose, when properly concocted.”

    Still others take a simpler approach, stating that the cocktail was named Jack Rose because it contains Applejack and is rose in color.

    Beyond the debate over this cocktails origins, there is also uncertainty over whether the Jack Rose was originally made with lime or lemon juice; but, enough controversy for now, quit reading and fix yourself one of these.

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