We love a good brandy, and if you have read some of our other blog posts you have probably noticed that the mixologist member of this partnership is quite partial to apple brandy in particular. Does apple brandy (or applejack, or Calvados) taste like apples? Well, yes in the way that wine tastes like grapes. You get the essence of the fruit in apple brandy, but the fermentation, distillation, and aging results in liquor that’s 80 proof (or more) and tastes more like whiskey than apple juice. We enjoy sipping apple brandy neat, but it’s also a part of several of our favorite cocktails including our Presidents’ Day Cocktail and Shenandoah Cyd Car.

Laird & Company is America’s oldest commercial distillery and today the Laird family is still producing Applejack and Apple Brandy – as they have been for nearly 300 years. For most of those years they have pretty much had the apple brandy market to themselves (for good reason - they produce a really solid product), but recently craft distilleries are getting in on the action.

So, what’s the difference between Applejack, Apple Brandy, and Calvados? Both Apple Brandy and Applejack begin with apple cider, but Apple Brandy is traditionally distilled and aged while Applejack is jacked. In its simplest form, jacking involves freezing hard cider and then removing the ice to leave the high-alcohol liquor. At Laird’s, they create Applejack by blending apple brandy with neutral spirits – which actually makes it more like Calvados. Calvados is a protected designation for French apple brandy that is aged in oak barrels. You can’t call it Calvados unless it comes from Normandy – just like you can’t call sparkling wine Champagne unless it comes from that region of France.

We were thinking about doing a version of the Manhattan using apple brandy when we noticed the Coronation cocktail in The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book (this book, by the way, has become one of our go-to resources for cocktail inspiration). Their Coronation recipe uses Laird’s Applejack, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, and apricot liqueur – sounds like a riff on a Manhattan. We poked around on the internet looking at recipes for the Coronation Cocktail and found drinks that contained a wide variety of ingredients - including sherry, gin, maraschino liqueur, and Dubonnet. It seems like you can call anything the Coronation Cocktail.

We took the Waldorf version (which was named in honor of King George’s coronation in 1911) and increased the applejack, left off the dry vermouth and increased the apricot liqueur. We feel like we achieved our goal of creating an apple brandy Manhattan variation - one that we would be very happy to mix up any time. This is a cocktail that you can serve in a cocktail coupe or with a large ice cube in an old-fashioned glass.

During the course of developing this recipe we tried several different apple spirits, and found we preferred Laird’s 7 ½ Year Old Apple Brandy for our Coronation Cocktail. We also mixed a batch with Harvest Spirits Cornelius Applejack and put it a 1-liter oak barrel. We have two of the small barrels are from Deep South Barrels, and we use them to age all of our Manhattan variations.

Somehow, in between tasting various version of the Coronation, the Cocktail Artist had time to do a couple of watercolors featuring apples – since (sorry for the pun) apples are the “core” of our Coronation Cocktail.



2 ounces Apple Brandy (Lairds 7 ½ Year Old)
1 ounce Apricot Liqueur (Blume Marillen Apricot Eau-de-Vie)
1 ounce Sweet Vermouth (Antica Formula Carpano Vermouth)
Dashes of Spiced Apple Bitters (Dashfire Bitters)

Place all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Market Apples - original watercolor by The Cocktail Artist

Apples - original watercolor on Aquaboard by The Cocktail Artist

Popular posts from this blog

Cherry Capital Old Fashioned

Jamaica Bay

The Grand Mariner

Ginger Root

Twilight Amaretto Sour