Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Jack Rose, Revisit

As long time readers may recall, the 5th cocktail we ever produced on The Amateur Mixologist was the Jack Rose.  It didn't go well. 

At the time, I figured that my dislike of the cocktail had something to do with the powdered sugar in the recipe, though my aversion to powdered sugar was debunked, in a way, by the successful inclusion of powdered sugar in the Fireman's Sour. 

If the powdered sugar wasn't the contributing factor, perhaps the calvados that I had purchased was too low-rent for this, or any other cocktail (the jury is still out on this one, as my calvados was, and is still, suspect).

No matter what the reason, the first go-round of the Jack Rose was a complete and utter failure.

Why revisit it, you ask?  Good question. 

I received a thought-provoking e-mail from reader Mark in Minnesota, who made some helpful suggestions about the drink - namely, was my lime juice may have been out of date, and perhaps more pointedly, that should I use a fresh squeezed lime in the place of its bottled equivalent.  All good comments and suggestions. 

I'm a big fan of bottled lime or lemon juice.  But, it has to be real lime or lemon juice.  None of the fake-lime looking squirt bottle, and Rose's lime juice doesn't count either (it's sweetened lime juice, a wholly different than real lime juice).  Bottled lime juice though offers consistency that real limes may not provide.  It's kind of like buying frozen peas - you're guaranteed a consistently good and fresh product compared to the non-frozen equivalent.

Today, we're going to revisit the Jack Rose, with an entirely new recipe.  And, we're going to try it with fresh squeezed lime juice, and we're going to try it with bottled lime juice (non-expired, of course).

And where are we getting our recipe?  Wikipedia.  I know, I know.  Wikipedia can sometimes be about as resourceful as the neighborhood blowhard.  I feel though that it's a good fit for finding cocktail recipes.  At a minimum, it can't be worse that what we used the last time around.

Jack Rose Wikipedia Entry, with recipe

3 parts applejack
2 parts lemon or lime juice
2 dashes grenadine

Traditionally shaken into a chilled glass, garnished, and served straight up.

First things first, I want to point out how different this recipe is from the original recipe used.  The original recipe called for a full barspoon of powdered sugar, whereas this recipe contains no powdered sugar.  Also, there is a bit more juice in this recipe than in the prior recipe.  Back to our broadcast....

Test Group # 1 - Bottled lime juice


I am happy to report that this is night and day compared to my first experience.  This cocktail is tart, but just sweet enough to be not merely palatable, but tasty. 


Whereas I said that the first Jack Rose tasted as though it was made in the backyard of a meth lab, this cocktail tastes as though it was made at a country club pool.  It's warm weather material, to be sure - on a hot summer day, this cocktail will cool you off and isn't too sweet.  I also made too large a drink for my own good.  As you may be able to tell in the photo, I used 3oz of calvados, 2oz of lime juice and about half an ounce of grenadine. 

Two of these boys and you're going to be housed in short order.  Moving on!

Test Group # 2 - Fresh squeezed lime juice


Boy, this is an interesting result.  I like both cocktails.  I think they are both very good, and certainly far better than the first effort.  But, they taste vastly different from one another. 

Where the first cocktail was pleasantly tart, this version, with real limes, is a little more subtle, a little more nuanced.  In some ways, it tastes as though the limes are a tad under ripe, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  The limes are imparting a great flavor into the cocktail that wasn't there with the bottled stuff.

Was bottled lime juice bad?  No, quite to the contrary in fact.  It was exactly as I've believed most bottled lime juice (of any quality anyway) to be - it was consistent. 


You'll notice too, that I made a small drink, thankfully.

I think the take away is that fresh limes, if available, provide unique nuance that isn't available out of even the best bottled lime juice.  But, don't pass on a cocktail simply because fresh lime juice is not available.  High quality bottled stuff is good, and makes good drinks, but I'm all for nuance, and probably preferred the freshy-fresh over the bottled stuff on this particular occasion.


Thank you to Mark in Minnesota for piquing my interest in the Jack Rose once again, and giving me a reason for this revisit.  The Jack Rose is a winner.  The first recipe I used though, was not a winner, it was dreadful.

Until Friday, cheers!

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