June 29, 2020

The Perfect Jack Rose Recipe with Applejack and Grenadine

An easy old school cocktail that tastes like a deliciously fruity adult apple lemonade.

This is a hidden gem in the world of cocktail recipes.

There are plenty of old drink recipes that are pretty lame by today's standards, but this simple beauty is NOT one of those.

It uses applejack as its base with tart fresh lemon balanced with sweet grenadine for cocktail that is bright, crisp, and deliciously fruity.

Pouring Applejack

What is Applejack?

Applejack is an American apple brandy meaning a spirit distilled from fruit that gets aged in wooden barrels to develop its flavors. 

It has been made in the United States since colonial times since it could be made without expensive distilling equipment, and apples were readily available in the American northeast.

Jack Distilling

Applejack was traditionally made with freeze distilling a.k.a. "jacking" (hence the name) where hard apple cider would be frozen in the winter, the frozen water would be taken out, and then you were left with a strong apple spirit.

However, it turns out that drinking spirits made from "jacking" can be pretty dangerous so modern applejack is made through distillation.  Laird and Company is the oldest continually operational distillery in the US and they are still cranking out some great applejacks.

Grenadine for a Jack Rose

The Jack Rose recipe

The biggest difference you will find across blog posts and cocktail books, is whether to use lemon or lime. Lime can take over the drink and make it a bit too tropical for me, so I go for the lemon.

I like this cocktail with a 3/4 ounce of fresh lemon, and an equal measure of homemade grenadine.

Pouring grenadine into a shaker

Easy Grenadine Recipe

Homemade grenadine is not hard to make and is absolutely worth it for cocktails like this.

A 3/4 ounce pour of grenadine can seem like a lot, but using a homemade version that isn't ridiculously over sweet is delicious when balanced out by the lemon juice.

If I'm going to make homemade grenadine I want to taste it!

It doesn't get to star in cocktails very often but this is its perfect chance.

Squeezing Fresh Lemon

Picking your apple brandy

Within the category of applejack there are different styles, but buy a bottle that says 100% apple brandy somewhere on it.

If the bottle says straight or bottled in bond that's great too, but try to avoid ones that are blends that are usually cut with neutral grain spirits that take away from the apple flavors you are after.

Applejack substitutes

Any dark colored apple brandy that's been barrel aged will make a solid Jack Rose cocktail. There are also non-aged versions and "eau de vie" which are clear. They will not have any of the deeper wood flavors that aged brandy has but you could certainly try those out as well.

Calvados, the French version of apple brandy, will also work.

There is a fairly common back story that the drink was named after the infamous gambler "Black Jack Rose" who was a witness in the 1912 Rosenthal murder trial, but it seems that probably isn't true.

Finished Jack Rose

As with many glamorous cocktail origin stories the truth probably much less exciting than the stories.

The cocktail probably got it's name before the trial and was either named after the bartender who created it (who supposedly had the nickname "jackrose"), or it was named because it had applejack and a rose color.

But no matter how the drink got its' name, it's delicious.

Jack Rose Recipe

The Jack Rose cocktail is a simple sour style cocktail from the early 1900's that uses applejack, America's classic apple brandy. The drink is crisp and tart with fresh lemon juice that is balanced with sweet homemade grenadine.


  • 2 oz Applejack
  • 3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 oz Grenadine


  • Add the ingredients to your cocktail shaker.
  • Add ice and shake vigorously for about 12 seconds. 
  • Strain into a chilled cocktail glass double straining if you want to avoid little ice chips.


If you cannot find applejack you can also use apple brandy or Calvados.
Total Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 drink
Tag me at @mydrinkinghobby when you make this!

Share the Rose

Jack Rose Pin

A really delicious old cocktail that should be on your list to try making for yourself at home.

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