Meet America’s first spirit, made right here in New Jersey
I like a little spirit, or should I say a cocktail at the end of a day or before a meal. Usually a scotch or a whiskey, also depends on the weather, if it’s cool out I’m going scotch or whiskey, if it’s hot I’m going vodka.
I’m intrigued by the distilling process that my scotch goes through to make that blend a perfect taste time after time.
Chris, my former producer and I came across an interesting fact about the first spirit, or liquor produced here in the United States. It was Applejack spirit produced by the Laird family right here in New Jersey.
William Laird emigrated from County File, Scotland in 1698 and settled in Monmouth County. He was a distiller back in Scotland and noticed that in Monmouth County apples were a plenty, so he made Applejack that he used for personal consumption and to share with his neighbors.
His success in distilling the Applejack led him to develop a distillery which was located behind the current Colts Neck Inn. He picked that location because the Inn was a stopping place for stage coaches, and travelers would come by to purchase the Applejack.
According to the Laird website, prior to 1760, George Washington wrote to the Laird family requesting their Applejack recipes. Entries appear in Washington’s diary in the 1760’s referring to the production of “cyder spirits.” As a Revolutionary soldier serving under George Washington, Robert Laird and his family provided the troops with Applejack. (No wonder we won the war!)
They have the first recorded transaction of the sale of Applejack not until 1780. Chris and I picked a great recipe to share with you from Lairds using Applejack; fittingly it’s called Jersey Girl. The recipe is a variation of the Cosmopolitan and was created by Gary Regan in honor of Lairds & Company’s 225th anniversary in 2005. Way to go Gary!
Jersey Girl cocktail:
1 1/2 oz. Laird’s Applejack
1 oz. Cointreau
1/2 oz. Fresh lime juice
1 oz. Cranberry juice
Lime for garnishing (Optional)
Fill cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add the Applejack, Cointreau, lime and cranberry juice. Shake until it's as cold as you can get it/ Strain into a coupe or martini glass. Garnishing with a slice of lime (optional). Enjoy.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.