New Jersey, home to America’s first cocktail?
New Jersey has had many firsts, but one that I love to celebrate is the fact that the Laird family here in New Jersey produced the first spirit, or liquor here in the United States. It was Applejack spirit or apple whiskey.
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 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 stagecoaches and travelers would come by and 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. Laird’s, part of what makes us proud to be New Jersey.
My former producer Chris Eannucci and I picked a great recipe to share with you from Lairds using Applejack; fittingly it is 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.
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