July 20, 2012

The PDT Project: Applejack Rabbit

by Payman Bahmani

“Did you say you’d like an Apple Martini? I’m sorry but we don’t carry any Apple Puckers, and the year is not 2002.”
-Me

Perhaps you’ve been in jail for most of this century and you’ve recently been set free, and so you have nary a notion of the occurrences of the last decade. Now that you’re a free man you figure you ought to go out and meet some new people; maybe go to a hip bar and meet a cute girl — lord knows you’ve grown tired of those boobs tattooed on your cellmate’s back. Although you haven’t gone out in a while, you figure you’ll be fine if you stick to your go-to move: you’ll just belly up to the bar next to the cute girl and buy her the drink you used to buy girls that you were trying to date rape — before you went to jail for date rape.

But unfortunately the passage of time has changed many things, and you find yourself having difficulty ordering an Apple Martini. For starters, many of the hip bars you used to frequent are now craft cocktail lounges, and the mixologists there don’t carry the requisite products for an Apple Martini. They carry an array of useless things called “bitters” but no Apple Puckers. What’s more, the bartenders now give you suspicious and condescending looks when you used to be showered with high-fives. And to add insult to injury, the ladies appear impervious to your Apple Martini advances, preferring things like whiskey, gin, and a new drink you’ve never heard of called a Manhattan. All this change is making your head spin.

So what is an ex-con to do? As always, I’m here to help my brethren transition back into productive adult society. Although I can’t help you find a lucrative job (I can’t even do that for myself, I’m a bartender), I can help you order a better drink to avoid ridicule and shame. And not only will you be ordering something you can actually enjoy for yourself, but you’ll avoid going back to prison, because for the first time girls are actually going to want to sleep with you.

The drink I refer to is the Applejack Rabbit. As the name suggests, it’s made with applejack, which is an apple brandy (makes for a great conversation piece at the bar), so it’s got that hint of apple that you know gets things crackin’. And the lemon, orange, and maple syrup provide the tart and sweet flavors you seek, except in this case it’s all natural and fresh (extra points because girls shop at Whole Foods now). And in fact this drink is so simple that you can even make it at home, now that you’ll have girls coming over on their own volition. The two of you can even get romantic and squeeze lemons and oranges together. I tell you, love knows no bounds when it’s not being bound.

Applejack Rabbit
2 oz Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
0.75 fresh lemon juice
0.75 fresh orange juice
0.5 oz Deep Mountain Grade B Maple Syrup

Tools: shaker, strainer
Glassware: chilled coupe

Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled coupe.

As always, fresh-squeezed juice is of utmost importance. You might be tempted to use store-bought orange juice in a pinch, but resist the temptation if you can. Since the drink already leans slightly on the sweet side, the store-bought stuff will take it beyond the range of palatable sweetness. Fresh-squeezed orange juice will provide just enough requisite sweetness, but also that fresh snap of tartness that store bought OJ lacks.

Another important ingredient to pay attention to is the maple syrup. Despite what the name implies, Grade B is actually the darker, richer, higher quality maple syrup than Grade A.

This is a great shaken drink to serve in the late summer/early fall. As I mentioned above, it’s a nice drink to introduce to people who are trapped in Apple Martini Land. It’s also a wonderful drink for Sidecar drinkers, as the brandy, lemon, and orange flavors will put them in familiar territory.

The Applejack Rabbit is actually older than the Apple Martini by at least half a century. The recipe in the PDT Cocktail Book is taken from Here’s How by Judge Jr., published in 1927. It also appears in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David Embury, although with much drier proportions, as tended to be Mr. Embury’s preference.

*This post is part of a series in which Payman takes on the task of making and writing about every cocktail featured in the PDT Cocktail Book, as well as providing an awesome photo of each drink taken by Vanessa Bahmani Photography.

**Got a question? He can be found on twitter @paystyle, you can email him at payman@pdtproject.com, or simply drop him a comment below.

3 Comments

  • Sam
    Posted July 20, 2012 at 10:21 am

    No disrespect to Judge Jr., Embury, or the PDT crew, but I’ve never found this drink to do it for me as is. I lurve me some applejack. And a funky grade B maple syrup is also up my alley. But somehow it doesn’t coalesce for me. Perhaps my palate suffers from ADD, but I can’t help but toss in some bitters when I do this guy up. Fee’s Whiskey Barrel Aged uns are nice here. I know, some things should be left simple and spare. But like I said, ADD or something.

  • Kayoko
    Posted July 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Take Back the Night! I love this and will need to try it. I can see how it might get funky with the maple, as Sam says. I may do half gum or something. Not sure it would need bitters, although I do tend to add bitters into everything. I’ve even started cooking with it.

  • Posted August 2, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Yeah, it’s a fairly uncomplex drink, which is why I approached it from the angle of introducing it as a gateway cocktail for people who aren’t used to drinking fancy cocktails. I can certainly see how you might want to spice it up a bit though.

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