The infamous Apple Jack Rabbit. This is a classic example of how most of us today are often perplexed about so many early 20th century cocktails and their sickenly sweet profiles. Sure, many mixologists today would agree that 19th and 20th century spirits were far different from those available today. Many were rough and unrefined, so sugar was an easy and cost-effective way of masking impurities while adding a pleasant flavor to an otherwise undrinkable cocktail. And, perhaps the fad of the times were that many imbibers had a propensity towards sweet drinks. But, the Apple Jack Rabbit takes this to the extreme.
A combination of Applejack, lemon and orange juices, and maple syrup may sound pleasing and a good mix, but it’s in the proportions that lie the issue. Traditionally this obscure and unremarkable drink was composed of roughly 1 3/4 oz Applejack, 1 3/4 oz maple syrup (WTF!?) and the juice of both 1 orange (about 2 oz) and 1 lemon (about 1 to 1 1/2 oz)….And yes, I did try this ratio and I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone. As such, I found this to be a perfect time to polish this ill-fated cocktail of old, and a great time to experiment with a new entry into MxMo this month. Elana of Stir and Strain has challenged us to find harmony with either creating smoke or using ingredients that evoke smoke in them. Here is what she has to offer us:
They say where there’s smoke, there’s fire– it isn’t necessarily true if we’re down to the smoldering embers, but, well, they say it anyway. In our case, where there was fire, now there’s smoke, and it’s time to stoke your enthusiasm for the next challenge.
Smoke has been everywhere this past year, from liquors to lemonades, to the hills here in Southern California(!); smoke in its many forms has been front page news.
For me, smoke is also a transitional element: it symbolizes the last summer bonfires, sitting around the fire pit making s’mores, and the start of the fragrant crackles from the fireplace announcing that fall is coming.
For September’s theme, I’d like to see how you interpret smoke. With your liquor or ingredients? Your glassware? Will you whip out a chemistry set to transform your cocktail into ghostly vapors? Do you own a home smoker, still in the box, that’s never been used? Well then, you’re welcome. Unpack those ideas and let’s set off a couple smoke alarms this month for MxMo.
As I stated before, I like the idea behind the Apple Jack Rabbit, just not the execution. There is a fantastic PDT version that is a great example of what this cocktail should be, but it still is missing something. That’s where I think this month’s theme is perfect for this drink. I’ve had smoked apple before in a few culinary creations, and I instantly thought that it would pair perfectly with the lemon, orange and especially the maple. I turned to the peat monster of a Scotch, Laphroaig, for some serious smoke. After a few trials with proportions, I opted for Bittermans unique orange cream citrate instead of fresh orange juice, and brought a sort of modern twang to the drink. However, it was still missing something. While good, the sweet maple and smoke needed something else to bridge the gap and enhance their flavors while balancing out the rest of the ingredients. That something: salt.
Salt has been used for thousands of years as not only a seasoning, but also a flavor enhancer. But, as we all know, a little can go a long way. In this case, a small “pinch” did just fine and perfectly balanced all the flavors to a truly unique cocktail experience.
Smoked Jack Rabbit
2 oz Laird’s Applejack
1/4 oz Laphroaig
3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Grade B Maple Syrup
6 drops Bittermans Orange Cream Citrate
Pinch of Kosher Salt for Garnish
Rinse a chilled cocktail glass with Laphroaig, discarding from glass. Combine remaining ingredients with ice, shake and strain into the chilled, Scotch laced cocktail glass and garnish with a small pinch of Kosher salt. Enjoy.
Color: Straw yellow
Flavor: Apple, peaty Scotch, sweet maple balance by citrus, salt and hints of orange
Texture: Medium light with a smooth finish