"Apples have been an American booze staple with Johnny Appleseed as its symbolic hero. John Chapman became that legend by planting apple tree nurseries across the northern Appalachia and the Midwest. He did not choose grafting techniques to reproduce sweet edible ones, but bred them to make sour apples perfect for cider and applejack. Michael Pollan in The Botany of Desire proclaimed, 'Really, what Johnny Appleseed was doing and the reason he was welcome in every cabin in Ohio and Indiana was he was bringing the gift of alcohol to the frontier. He was our American Dionysus.' Apple products began to enter into the mixed drink literature in the 19th century with the Stone Fence appearing in Jerry Thomas' Bartender Guide and got quite refined by the end of the century such as the Widow's Kiss in George Kappeler's Modern American Drinks. Indeed, apples have found their way into modern cocktails via Calvados, applejack, sparkling and still cider, apple butter, and muddled apple."
I grew up on an old dairy farm that had a lovely orchard. By late summer we were picking apples with hooks on long poles and putting them up for winter. Any that fell to the ground we'd grab up and eat in chunks cut out with our pocket knives. I distinctly remember one Fall when my mother and older sisters put up a large batch of hand pressed apple cider. It was delicious and we sipped on it all winter long. The apple trees in our orchard were the first trees I learned to climb, before I got brave enough to scale the maple and oak trees around our farm house.
Apple juice. Apple cider. Apple butter. Apple pie. Apple crisp. Apple tart. Apples with cheese. Yes, apples run rampant through the glorious memories of my childhood. Which I suppose is where the root of the inspiration came for this next cocktail. I wanted something that would express a bit about myself. Each element in this drink reminds me of my childhood home. Each sip allows me to relive a cherished memory.
The elements? I created an Earl Gray Tea Infused Laird's Applejack and paired it with allspice dram, burnt sugar syrup, Angostura Bitters, lemon oil and hickory smoke.
For Earl Gray Tea Infused Laird's Applejack:
Combine one .750 ml bottle of Laird's Apple Jack with 5 bags of Earl Gray tea. Stir. Let sit 30 minutes. Strain.
For Burnt Sugar Syrup:
Caramelize .5 cup sugar in the base of a heavy sauce pan over medium heat. Slowly add .5 cup hot water and stir frequently until caramelized sugar dissolves. Chill.
|Ingredients for a Belles & Whistles|
Belles & Whistles
Rinse an Old Fashioned glass with allspice dram.
Place 1 large ice sphere in glass.
Garnish glass with a lemon twist, misting lemon oil over ice sphere.
Into a small narrow-spouted bottle (I used an old Hudson Whiskey bottle), combine:
2 ds Angostura Bitters
.5 oz burnt sugar syrup
2 oz Earl Gray Tea infused Applejack
Using a PolyScience Smoking Gun, smoke bottle containing cocktail briefly,
then cork and shake briefly.
Allow cocktail to sit with smoke for as long as the drinker desires.
The longer it sits the smokier the cocktail will become.
|Pouring a Belles & Whistles|
I suppose it is ultimately a beautiful, smoky twist on an applejack old-fashioned. The sweetness and smokiness match the apple brandy on point and the lemon oil and bitters add depth and balance. This drink deserves to be sipped with friends and family, sitting next to the fireplace and pondering the wonder and beauty of a simple life.
Many thanks again to our wonderful host and guide, Fred Yarm and to all the rest of the participants in Mixology Monday that keep this thing fun!