Thirsty Writer, Libations Marketer
Though it’s not technically fall, there’s a cool crispness to the air around Salem this second weekend in September. A full moon is also brewing, seeming to make the shift between season seems even more imminent.
Now I don’t know about you, but full moons make me a little…well, not myself. I feel unsettled, an anxious pacing in my mind as if there is something I am not quite remembering, or on the precipice of something happening. Usually, I start baking, a self-soothing way to create order and purpose. But this weekend, I started thinking about apples, and our forgotten-on-the-shelf bottle of Laird’s Applejack.
The colonists started making applejack from hard cider (and a surplus of apples) as early as 1630. It became more palatable once the Laird family began tinkering with the process in New Jersey (hence the term “Jersey Lightening”), officially becoming America’s first commercial distillery in 1780.
Applejack is a blend of aged apple brandy blended with neutral grain spirits. A bottle of Laird’s contains about six pounds of apples, if you’re counting your fruit intake. It’s sweetness is subtle, and it doesn’t carry as much oak as a French Calvados, making it a good choice for cocktails.
Not ones to go empty-handed on a night when the full moon beckoned, my husband and I brought out the old cocktail books and thumbed through the worn pages in search of an inspiring one to try. With applejack in mind, we came across the Vermont Cocktail from Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide. With applejack, Benedictine and maple syrup among the ingredients, it seemed just the thing to warm us up.
The original recipe was a tad too sweet, so after tinkering around with the proportions and then adding some acidity to balance
it out, we created a new version that can settle the gravitational pull of any full moon.
Full Moon Over Salem
1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz Laird’s applejack
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Marie Brizard Apry
1/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz maple syrup
3 dashes grapefruit bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.