The Jack Rose

In a discussion of Laird’s Applejack, Catherine asks if there’s a definitive recipe for the Jack Rose. I can do no better than to quote David Embury, writing in 1948:

… if you will examine a dozen books of cocktail recipes, you will find formulas varying all the way from applejack and lemon juice half and half with a few dashes of grenadine to applejack and grenadine half and half with a few drops of lemon juice.

I haven’t found quite the diversity of opinion that Embury cites — doubtless his reference library was broader than mine — but there’s nothing approaching unanimity. Embury himself favors a strong:sour:sweet ratio of 8:2:1, his standard for Sours, while Ted Haigh’s recipe in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails calls for 1.5 oz applejack, 1 oz lemon juice, and “2 or more dashes” of grenadine, yielding a far more sour ratio of something like 12:8:1. The CocktailDB recipe, on the other hand, proposes a 3:1:1 ratio. David Wondrich’s Esquire Drinks opts for 4:2:1, Trader Vic would have the Jack Rose at a startling 2:2:1, and Regan’s Joy of Mixology instructs that we mix at 10:3:x, copping out with “grenadine to taste.”

Wondrich describes his version as “…smooth and sweetish and deeply deceptive. Sipping it, you can’t tell it contains liquor of any kind, let alone applejack.” Having made one à la Wondrich, I can confirm that assessment. Unfortunately, it’s not the drink I’m looking for, and neither is Haigh’s overly-tart version. De gustibus non disputandum est, but I cast my vote for Embury’s, in which the applejack is foremost. Thus, the Slakethirstian Jack Rose is comprised of:

2 oz. applejack
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/4 oz. grenadine

Shaken and strained.

12 thoughts on “The Jack Rose”

  1. Most welcome. I should append that, due to a mixological error this evening, a 4:1:1 ratio doesn’t seem bad either… at least, likely not. My extensive testing the other day meant that I ran out of applejack in mid-mix tonight and had to stretch it with rye, so I could be wrong. It is a true statement, however, that I have found 1 oz. applejack, 1 oz. rye, 1/2 oz. lemon juice and 1/2 oz. grenadine to be pleasant enough. Extra grenadine takes some of the edge off the lemon, of course, but it’s OK. The rye probably contributed more of a strongness than 4 parts applejack would have.

    I hope you’re making your own grenadine, and not using Rose’s, because real pomegranate makes a piquant difference. If not, get yourself a bottle of Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice, mix 1 cup of it with 1 cup of sugar, add an ounce of Everclear to give it some resistance to microbiological insults, and shake it really well. Drink the rest of the pomegranate juice: it’s good for you. :>

  2. Washington Post, 23rd December 1912


    “The murder of Herman Rosenthal has seriously affected the business of florists in Brooklyn, and perhaps a good deal in Manhattan. The Jack rose, a pretty popular blossom, has often been left on the hands of the Brooklyn florists, just because it bears the same name as the informer in the famous trials.”

    Its seems that the Flower and the Cocktail, of the same name, predate the murder. As the Jack Flower is a deep crimson colour, it is more than likely that the Cocktail was named after it.

  3. NATIONAL POLICE GAZETTE, 22nd April 1905

    Frank J. May, better known as Jack Rose, is the inventor of a very popular cocktail by that name, which has made him famous as a mixologist. He is at present looking after the managerial affairs of Gene Sullivan’s Cafe, at 187 Pavonia avenue, Jersey City, N. J., one of the most popular resorts in that city. Mr. May takes an active interest in sports, and as a wrestler could give many of the professional wrestlers a warm argument.

  4. I like your ratios. I use 3/4 oz of lemon juice and 3/4 oz of Stirrings Authentic Grenadine. The Stirrings product is actually made from pomegranates and is not as sweet as Roses or other grenadines. For this reason, you have to use more to counter the lemon juice, but the reward is a more substantial taste and less of the neon red color.

  5. From a 1910 printing of “Jack’s Manual”


    1 tsp Sugar
    10 Dashes Raspberry Syrup
    10 Dashes Lemon Juice
    5 Dashes Orange Juice
    Juice of 1/2 Lime
    75% Cider Brandy (2 1/4oz)

    Fill glass with cracked ice, shake and strain. Fill with fizz water and serve (highball glass I assume)

  6. Interesting idea about making one’s own grenadine, but I use so little of it that I’m not sure it would make sense for me. The Stirrings product is actually made from pomegranates and is not as sweet as Roses or other grenadines.Thanks for sharing this.

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