Applejack Old Fashioned

This one’s promoted from the comments section on the Applejack Rabbit

Right after I gushed about how Misty Kalkofen had turned me on to a few new applejack cocktails, Misty chimed in and idly mentioned that she’s been mixing up “a ton of Applejack Old Fashioneds using maple syrup and Fee Brothers Whiskey-Barrel Aged Bitters (eschewing the fruit, of course).”

Now, Misty, you can’t just drop a drink mention like that and expect me not to try it. After all, I’m now a certified applejack fiend, and as for the Fee’s Whiskey-Barrel Aged Aromatic Bitters — well, anything made with that ambrosial concoction is destined for my gullet in short order.

So, I tried it — and so should you (the rest of you, that is — I’m sure Misty has already tapped one or two). As with the potent bunny, the marriage of applejack and maple works brilliantly in an Old Fashioned (though since maple syrup is more concentrated, sugar-wise, than ordinary simple syrup, you’ll probably want to dial back the dose a notch). And those deep, chewy notes of cinnamon and cardamom in the Fee’s bitters brings it all together.

Applejack Old Fashioned a la Green Street

In an Old Fashioned glass, build:

  • 1 tsp (or to taste) real maple syrup
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Aromatic Bitters*
  • 2 ounces Laird’s Applejack

Give a little stir, a big chunk or two of ice, another little stir, then garnish if you like.

* If you can’t find the barrel-aged bitters, then Fee’s Old Fashioned Aromatic Bitters will do (or, Angostura in a pinch). But really — and I haven’t harped on this quite enough — the Whisky Barrel Aged Bitters is an exceptionally fine product. If you can’t find it where you live, give the good folks at Fee’s a call and see if you can order some — they’re really worth the effort.

24 Responses to Applejack Old Fashioned

  1. For your Applejack cocktails, do you use the blended or the bonded Applejack?
    Here we are approaching Fall and I’m having trouble finding the bonded in NJ of all places!

    Thanks, Rich

  2. The bonded is definitely the way to go. Any place that carries the blended should be able to get the bonded.

  3. I used the Laird’s Applejack, which is a blend, for this drink — the bonded apple brandy is wonderful, and would, I’m sure, work great in this drink.

    Though, it is hard to find — here in state liquor monopoly hell, the bonded isn’t even carried, so I’m relying on a bottle I brought back from San Diego.

  4. I thought of doing a Manhattan-type with Calvados, too. Then, I figured I’d want to either use dry vermouth, or a mixture of sweet and dry. Then, I realized I was most of the way to a Fallen Leaves, which I love anyway, and dropped the idea. 🙂

  5. I always get “Falling Leaves” and “Fallen Leaves” mixed up, as I haven’t really tried either.

    But, yup, it’s all good. Though, don’t undersell the “Apple Jack Cocktail” or plain old “Apple Brandy Manhattan”. Quite good, especially with Cinzano vermouth.

  6. This is very similar to the drink I used to suggest when I was bringing around bottles of Laird’s Bonded to various NYC cocktail bars as part of my early grassroots efforts to popularize the product. I’d just tell them to make a “Bonded Applejack Tombstone, stirred” (the Tombstone being 2 ounces of Wild Turkey rye, a teaspoon of 2:1 demerara simple syrup and a few dashes of bitters, shaken and strained with a twist). I highly recommend the regular Fee’s Aromatic Bitters with Laird’s Bonded, and of course the Barrel Aged bitters are also outstanding. Of late, I’ve come to appreciate Peychaud’s Bitters with Laird’s Bonded.

  7. I’m new to the mixing business, and the fact that I live in the sticks in South Carolina has made appropriating certain ingredients rather difficult. But, with the enthusiasm of youth (intellectual if not physical), I’ve sniffed out a place to order all sorts of bitters online, including the Fees Whiskey Barrel as well. So for others who are similarly geographically challenged:

    Just waiting for that package in the mail…

  8. I am full of distress. I really wasn’t enamored by this one. It was fairly strong and I didn’t get much maple or bitter flavor (I even doubled them when noticing this). I did use Laird’s bonded, which is higher proof, and I’m wondering if that is what turned me off.

    Applejack has always been a tough one for me.


  9. I made this with a VSOP Calvados (don’t have the bottle handy to get an exact name), and it was quite good. The bitters and the maple were balanced well with the Calvados. So, Rick, maybe try it with a mellower Calvados, to allow the maple and bitters to punch through easier?

  10. Hey there! Way to give a shout out to our girl Misty! Any chance you can make it to our upcoming event, the LUPEC BOSTON TEA PARTY? Check out for details!

  11. by sheer coincidence, my case of bitters arrived from fee bros. the day you posted this, so i made the drink tonight (about half an hour ago). i learned 2 things: 1 dash is plenty (the strong cinnamon note in the aged bitters overpowers the apple scent & taste in the laird’s), and i need to put a cocktail straw or stirrer in the glass, ’cause the syrup sinks.

    great drink, nonetheless.


  12. Rick, you have to form the idea that applejack is apple whiskey and not apple brandy — it’s got that rough whiskey edge rather than the suaveness of a brandy (for that, you want calvados) The appropriate frame of reference for Laird’s bonded might be something like Wild Turkey rye.

    As for the maple, I can’t say that I’ve ever noticed much maple flavor in cocktails that combine Laird’s bonded with maple syrup. Most high grade maple syrup is quite mild in flavor anyway. Perhaps a stong-tasting grade B syrup might make a difference.

    I’m a little surprised you didn’t get enough bitters flavor with two healthy dashes. I’ve never had that difficulty. Fee’s Aromatic, Fee’s Barrel Aged, Hess House, Angostura, Peychaud’s… I’ve enjoyed them all in a Laird’s bonded Old Fashioned.

  13. The discussion about bonded and blended apple jack and that apple jack is more like apple whiskey sounds very interesting – though I would need more…

    What is exactly the taste profile of a apple jack? Until now, I tried a lot of Calvados and aged apple eau de vie, however Applejack is so unique (and is also not widely available outside of the US).

  14. Fundamentally there is no difference between Applejack, Apple Brandy and Calvados. They are all made from apple juice which has been fermented, distilled and aged in wood (apple eau de vie is the same thing, only unaged).

    Calvados, of course, refers to a specific location of production and certain other details as to ingredients, methods, etc. (similar to requirements for Cognac and Armagnac).

    Applejack is simply an American style of Apple Brandy, and “applejack” was historically the nickname for apple brandy produced in the United States. Today there is only one remaining producer of Applejack: Laird’s.

    Historically, this would have been a product made from 100% aged spirit (applejack has been made here since colonial times). At some point in the 60s or 70s the government decided that if Laird’s wanted to call it “applejack” instead of “apple brandy” it had to be a blended spirit. Thus, Laird’s Applejack is something like 30% aged apple brandy blended with neutral spirits and some apple wine.

    Laird’s makes other apple products, however. More to the point, they make an apple brandy that is bottled in bond. Due to the bottled in bond act, this means that it is 100% apple brandy at 50% abv (100 proof) and aged a minimum of something like three years in wood (I’m going my memory on the minimum aging — but it doesn’t matter, because Laird’s Bonded is aged longer anyway). Although Laird’s markets this product as “apple brandy” most of us call it “bonded applejack” and I personally believe it must be the closest thing we have going to the applejack used in historical cocktails such as the Jack Rose, etc.

    Laird’s Bonded applejack has a nice apple flavor much like a young Calvados does, but is not as suave and refined on the palate. There is some roughness and fire to applejack that makes it unique and, as I said earlier, gives it a profile closer to what I would associate with whiskey than brandy.

  15. Courtney’s applejack whiskey : did Laird’s buy the company;if so , when?
    Anybody have an old bottle with label or photo of same. rsvp my e-mail

  16. […] 1 ½ oz. Apple Jack ½ oz. fresh lemon juice (usually the juice of one half of a lemon) ½ oz. simple syrup Dash of grenadine Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker; shake; strain into chilled cocktail glass; garnish with a bit of lemon peel (use a vegetable peeler to make a strip of peel). A quick word on two of the ingredients. First, simple syrup is aptly named; simply mix two parts sugar with one part water in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves, funnel into an empty bottle, and keep in the fridge for a month. Second, grenadine is named for pomegranates, but all the readily-available brands use high fructose corn syrup and red dye. The real stuff can be found or can be made easily at home. Don’t stress out over it for this drink, get what you can as it’s just for a bit of color. If you do get your hands on the real stuff, however, swap out the simple syrup for ½ oz. of real grenadine (¾ oz. if using home-made). While it can’t prevent you from being traded to the Chiefs, the Jack Rose is certainly worth making, and, once you’ve gotten yourself a bottle of applejack, you can also experiment with a highly-recommended applejack old-fashioned. […]

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