Thursday, November 16, 2017

Laird's Applejack: An American Original

I've had the honor of tasting many different spirits and liqueurs during my time in and out of the bar business. But until this past week, I had never had a taste of Applejack, specifically Laird's Applejack. What I enjoy more than a good spirit is a good backstory to said spirit...and this one has one. So taking a cue from my alter-ego +History Sisco let's go back in time.

According to the label on the bottle of Laird's Applejack which is produced by Laird and Company, they've been in business since 1780 and the recipe for the Applejack was created by William Laird in 1698. The recipe proved to be so popular that it drew the attention of General George Washington when the applejack was being served to the troops of the Revolutionary army. General Washington loved the spirit so much that he asked for the recipe to make the applejack. And who can really say no to General Washington, right?

General Washington was given the recipe and he proceeded to distill some applejack. But that's not the only instance where a future President of the United States was linked to applejack. Our 16th President Abraham Lincoln used to serve liquor at the Berry and Lincoln grocery store in Illinois and applejack was undoubtedly one of spirits served. Rumor even has it that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose mixology skills I profiled with the Haitian Libation, would add a splash of applejack to his martinis. And for the record, I would say without much doubt that FDR was knocking back Gin Martinis. In literary circles, applejack in the form of the Jack Rose cocktail is knocked back by character Jake Barnes in Ernest Hemingway's novel The Sun Also Rises. I'll profile the Jack Rose cocktail in a later post.

The spirit also owes its popularity to a 19th century pioneer and preacher who went by the name of Johnny Appleseed. Appleseed would make his way through parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois and West Virginia planting apple seeds for the apples that are used to make applejack. And since I mention the apples in applejack, let's shift gears as to what applejack is.

According to the article One Family's Story: Apples to Applejack by Frank J. Prial from the New York Times dated May 4, 2005:
The best apples for making applejack are small, late-ripening Winesaps, Larrie Laird said, "because they yield more alcohol." Sixteen pounds of apples produce about 25 ounces of applejack.
The colonial American method for making applejack was to make hard cider from the apples, leaving the cider in barrels outside during the winter and as the water portion of the cider froze, it would be removed leaving the fermented and potent apple spirit. This process was knows as "Jacking."

Today Laird's Applejack is a 80 proof spirit made up of a blend of about 35 percent apple brandy and 65 percent neutral grain spirits. The spirit also be made from whole apples and must be aged four years in used bourbon barrels.

For the last 237 years, the Laird Family has been making applejack for countless generations of American drinkers. Now its my turn. For my next post, I'll highlight the Washington Applejack Mule that I made this past Tuesday.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
SiscoVanilla
#SiscoVanilla
#SiscoVanillaAtTheMovies
#SiscoVanillaAtTheBookstore
#SiscoVanillaisStepping

For Further Reading:

- One Family's Story: Apples to Applejack by Frank J. Prial from the New York Times dated May 4, 2005

HOW APPLEJACK BECAME THE SPIRIT OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS by DAN Q. DAO from the Saveur Magazine website dated FEBRUARY 22, 2017

Jersey Lightning Karen Tina Harrison from New Jersey Monthly dated July 13, 2009

- Applejack by Troy Patterson from Slate.com dated December 7, 2011

- Elements: Applejack by Paul Clarke from Imbibe Magazine dated January 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Old Pal at Finn's Corner

After three and a half years of being retired from the bar business I, like Douglas MacArthur have returned. Well, its not as dramatic as that LOL. But as you can imagine my excitement, I get a second shot at redemption in the bar business. I'll be behind the stick at Finn's Corner, 660 Washington Avenue in Brooklyn on Tuesday nights. So in honor of my friend Pete who offered my the opportunity to return to bartending, here is the Old Pal Cocktail.

The Old Pal

Now the Old Pal's origins lay with legendary bartender Harry MacElhone of the legendary Harry's New York Bar in Paris, France.  It is believed that MacElhone had created the drink in honor of his friend William "Sparrow" Robinson who was a sports columnist at the New York Herald-Tribune's Paris office. Now there is some dispute as to when the drink was created. For that I'll refer you to the article Classic Drinks: The Old Pal and a New Friend by Nick Caruana from the Serious Eats website.  On to the cocktail.

Some of you might see the recipe and think that it is a riff on the classic cocktail known as the Negroni. Whether it is or not I can not say. I have also seen this cocktail made with a 2:1:1 proportion with the whiskey having the larger share but for simplicity sake, I decided to make it as originally created. Here is the recipe for the Old Pal.


The Old Pal
1 Part Rittenhouse 100 Proof Rye Whiskey
1 Part Dolin Dry Vermouth
1 Part Campari
Combine all ingredients in ice filled shaker. Stir until the shaker is frosty and cold. Strain into a glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.



I found the Old Pal to be rather balanced, considering you have a 100 proof Rye and Campari making up two thirds of the ingredients with a hint of the bitterness of the Campari at the back of the tongue after taking a sip. If that aspect of Campari might be a bit harsh for your palate, I would recommend replacing the Campari with Aperol for a less harsher experience.

Here are my thoughts straight from behind the bar.


If you decide to have one let me know what you think. Have you tried it with another Rye Whiskey? Drop me a line and let me know at SiscoVanilla@gmail.com or give me a follow on Instagram at @SiscoVanilla

Until Then Happy Drinking,
SiscoVanilla
#SiscoVanilla
#SiscoVanillaAtTheMovies
#SiscoVanillaAtTheBookstore
#SiscoVanillaisStepping

For Further Reading:

- The Mystery of the Old Pal Cocktail from Cold Glass.com

Sunday, January 29, 2017

What is Hennessy Paradis

Hello gals and guys. I know its been a while since I've posted anything. I've been busy adjusting to a new position at work so I've been laying off the booze (aside from the occasional tipple) to keep my mind clear. But a few weeks back, I went out to brunch with Momma-San and a few friends to the Pine Bar+Grill loctaed at 1634 Eastchester Rd, Bronx, NY 10461 (718) 319-0900. As I was persuing the cocktail menu, I came across a listing that caught my attention. Here is what I saw.

Looking through the "After Dinner" section of the cocktail menu, I saw that an 1.5oz serving of Hennessy Paradis cost a cool $230 dollars. Now you might say "Hey wait, the Remy Martin Louis XIII for the same size costs $40 dollars more." That is true, but I'm familiar with the Louis XIII. I can't say I've ever remembered hearing about the Hennessy Paradis. So with that in mind, here is what I found out about said Hennessy Paradis.

Going to the source, the Hennessy website describes the Paradis as so:

Paradis is named after the special section in the Hennessy aging cellars where the finest, rarest, and oldest eaux-de-vie are carefully guarded. Created in 1979, the blend was conceived to be superlative yet subtle, making some of Hennessy’s most precious spirits widely available for the first time.
Possessed of rich successive aromas that only a great Cognac can obtain, Paradis reveals its delicate and velvety character, hinting at the silky texture that will follow. Its subtle texture allows it to gracefully blossom with a deep and fragrant persistence.
A further description comes from the Dan Murphy's online liquor store website's listing for the Hennessy Paradis:
Perfectly harmonious in the mouth, Hennessy Paradis Extra reveals itself to be smooth, full-bodied and long-lasting on the palate. A blend of over 100 'eaux-de-vie' and aged alongside other great 'eaux-de-vie's of its generation. Paradis is the realisation of a dream by its creator, Maurice Fillioux, using spirit blended by his grandfather. The tradition continues today to select spirits that will taste every bit as powerful and elegant in 4 generations time.
The cognac comes in a 750ml bottle and retails in the $800 dollar range. That has to be some really good cognac. That is way too rich for my blood. It was even rich for me when I was bartending, let alone now. But hey, if you have that kind of cash to spend on a cognac, rock on.

Anyone want to share their experiences with the Hennessy Paradis?

Until Then Happy Drinking,
SiscoVanilla
#SiscoVanilla
#SiscoVanillaAtTheMovies
#SiscoVanillaAtTheBookstore