I was reading about prohibition cocktails the other night and ran across another I had forgotten about. Hemingway mentions it in The Sun Also Rises and honestly, I want to try pretty much anything he writes about and I want to drink anywhere he drank. It’s funny, but I remember years ago reading one of his passages about trout fishing and drinking white wine straight from the bottle that had been chilling in the stream and it made me want that. Not just the drink, but the whole experience. He was one of the first writers who connected to that inner drive, who tapped those desires with his spot on descriptions. Honestly, I would probably not list Hemingway as a favorite author or human, but when it comes to describing experiences, I doff my fine cap to this master. And always drink at an old Hemingway hang out when you get the chance, they usually have a certain air of carefree disreputability that you need in your life. Anyway, the drink harkens back to the early days of cocktails with its brandy-esque base and it gave me an excuse to get a bottle of Applejack so I figured, why not. Time to kick off your shoes and look at your mixing station with a certain world weary grizzledness as we construct the Jack Rose.
Grab those silvered tins, the ones she gave you at that lonely birthday party during the pandemic. Feel their cool power, firm but with a tensile flex in your strong but aging hands. Squeeze out 3/4 of an ounce of juice from the lemons Aldi brought in from the grove yesterday and add an equal amount of grenadine, ignoring what happened in Spain as the red liquid mixes with the pale yellow juice, like blood in the sand. 2 ounces of Laird’s Applejack goes in next. No one remembers why we called him Laird. He’d never been to Scotland, most folks thought he’d come from New Jersey, and we all knew the only highlands he’d seen were in Virginia. Good man, though, in a fight. 2 stabs from that old bottle of Peychaud’s bitters we’d swiped in Paris and you are ready to shake. The old man used to shake like that, when the thirst was on him. Hard not to think about that as I stare across the bar only to see my reflection in the window. No point going down that road, just double strain this concoction into a coupe and get it over with. Garnish it with a lemon twist, like they did last summer. That glorious summer that was never to end, well not for her anyway. I guess I’ll always remember it that way.
Take a sip, slowly. Feel the lemon. It’s bite. How it fights the grenadine, subduing it. Flowing into that apple brandy finish. It’s a good drink. Not the best, but probably better than we deserve. That’s what he figured anyway, as he made the long walk over to lock the saloon door, he could almost hear her singing. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.