Spiked Rose

As served at Vanguard Lounge, $10

A rose by any other name wouldn’t taste nearly as sweet as a Spiked Rose on the Vanguard Lounge patio (516 E. Fremont St.) or served to your Thanksgiving dinner guests, made with your own McIntosh-apple-infused brandy.

“I’m from the Midwest, so once fall hits that’s my time to shine, cocktail-wise,” says Vanguard bartender Dustin Drankiewicz. In the hopes of perhaps changing some folks’ minds about what the nation’s heartland has to offer, Drankiewicz calls upon his native Wisconsin for inspiration, specifically Door County. “We can get our hands on some great stuff that you normally wouldn’t picture in cocktails: fresh maple syrup, [Washington] Island wheat, cherries, apples, pumpkins, etc.”

Here, Drankiewicz puts a seasonal spin on the classic Jack Rose cocktail—historically made with applejack, lemon or lime juice and grenadine—by employing house-made apple-infused brandy, house-made grenadine and house-made drunken cherries. “I think people can appreciate the time and energy put into stuff like that,” Drankiewicz says. “And for bartenders, it gives us the opportunity to develop the exact flavor profile we want.”

In contrast, at Daniel Hyatt’s Alembic bar on Haight Street in San Francisco (AlembicBar.com), the Jack Rose is traditional and more acidic. “One tart, pink, homewrecker of a cocktail,” the menu warns. “Pucker up.” But I have to say, however sweet, Drankiewicz’ autumnal take is growing on me.

  • 2 ounces house-made apple-infused brandy (recipe below)
  • ½ ounce fresh, organic maple syrup
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ ounce house-made sumac-spiced grenadine (see sidebar for recipe)
  • 1 “drunken cherry” (or a Luxardo Marasca cherry, CaskStore.com, $16)

In a mixing glass, combine grenadine, lime juice, maple syrup and brandy, and stir until the maple syrup dissolves. Add ice, cover and shake for 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe and garnish.

Mise en Place

Apple-infused brandy

  • 1 bottle of brandy (Korbel or Christian Brothers)
  • 6 McIntosh apples, peeled, cored and cut in half
  • Brown sugar
  • A long swath of lemon peel from one entire lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Lightly toss the apple halves in brown sugar and place in a large, sealable jar or Tupperware container. Add the cinnamon stick, lemon peel and brandy, then seal tightly and let rest for seven days at room temperature. Strain through a coffee filter or cheesecloth into the original brandy bottle or into a new bottle for gift giving.

Sumac-spiced Grenadine

Using a 2:1 ratio of either fresh pomegranate juice or Pom Wonderful juice to simple syrup (50/50 mix of sugar dissolved into water), bring the combined ingredients to a simmer and stir in 1 tablespoon sumac until dissolved. Remove from heat, cool and bottle.

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