Monday, February 18, 2013

General Stark's Battalion Shrubb Cocktail

By Warren Bobrow

Laird's Old Apple Brandy is a Colonial-era spirit that is right at home here in New Jersey. During the days leading up to the Revolutionary War, the part of Morris County where I reside was an area rife with apple orchards. Some of the original inhabitants of this area hailed from France and Germany, where history taught many methods for distillation.

From the DrinkUpNY website:

"It takes about sixteen pounds of apples to create each bottle of this aromatic and richly flavored brandy. Matured for seven and a half years, Laird's Old Apple Brandy balances the fresh character of fresh apples with warm caramel and spice notes lent by oak barrels. This distinctly American spirit is well-suited for both sipping and mixing."

I was first introduced to applejack at an early age. My family has an organic/biodynamic farm in Morristown, New Jersey with ancient apple orchards dating back to the early 1700's. Some of the apples that grow on these trees are better suited to cooking than eating fresh from the branch. Another excellent application of these historic "Heirloom" apples is into homemade distilled spirits instead of pies.

Apple Brandy is like a fermented cider, further distilled, and then aged in oak barrels for a specific period of time. A fair amount of "moonshine"-style apple brandy was made on our farm in the 1950's and 60's or so the story goes. All that I remember is the short glasses of apple fire elixirs that started many of our grand family meals served in the big house on the hill.

Laird's Apple Brandy is aged in oak barrels until the producer deems it ready to drink. Apple Brandy is toasty, potent and quite memorable in the glass. Sure you can buy Calvados from France - and many do - but the "farm to table" diners in the NY/NJ area will be pleased to know that Laird's Apple Brandy is still made from local apples. According to the company, Laird's is the fourteenth oldest family-owned business in the United States!

I'm particularly fond of using Laird's Apple Brandy in cocktails that include another almost unknown New Jersey product - maple syrup. Sure everyone has enjoyed maple syrup from Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. And of course who hasn't tucked into a perfect maple leaf sugar candy from Canada? But maple syrup from New Jersey? Does it exist? It certainly does exist and when maple syrup is woven into a cocktail with Laird's Apple Brandy, a bit of apple cider vinegar, bourbon whiskey, and The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Bitters, there is history in every sip. This cocktail becomes like a shrubb because of the sour/acidic element of the vinegar.

 It's quite beguiling indeed!

General Stark's Battalion Shrubb 
(serves two very thirsty rebels)

• 3 oz. Laird's Apple Brandy
• 2 oz.  Four Roses Bourbon Whiskey
• 3 oz. Grade B - Dark Amber Maple Syrup
• 1 oz. Apple Cider Vinegar
• A few dashes of the Bitter Truth (Historic) Jerry Thomas Bitters
• Apple slices (grilled)

1. To a Boston shaker, add:
        Laird's Apple Brandy
        Four Roses Bourbon
        Maple syrup
        Apple Cider Vinegar
2. Fill ¾ with ice and then add the Jerry Thomas Bitters.
3.Shake for twenty seconds or so.
4. Strain into short rocks glasses and garnish with a grilled apple slice.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.

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