Jack Rose cocktail (1905)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Nov 6 00:55:15 UTC 2002

At 8:51 PM -0500 11/4/02, Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:
>    I was looking unsuccessfully for other cocktail names.  I
>discussed this in September 2000, in a cite from TAP & TAVERN.  (See
>ADS-L archives.)
>    22 April 1905, NATIONAL POLICE GAZETTE, pg. 14:
>_Wise Bartenders will Get Good Tips in This Column._
>    Frank J. May, better known as Jack Rose, is the inventor of a
>very popular cocktail by that name, which has made him famous as a
>mixologist.  He is at present looking after the managerial affairs
>of Gene Sullivan's Cafe, at 187 Pavonia avenue, Jersey City, N. J.,
>one of the most popular resorts in that city.  Mr. May takes an
>active interest in sports, and as a wrestler could give many of the
>professional wrestlers a warm argument.

Here's another version or two, courtesy of
(the site has a lovely picture of the drink, which does indeed like a
Jacqueminot rose--or so I imagine).   I was wondering if there was
any relation to Rose's Lime Juice, but as far as I can tell there


This cocktail gives us a twinge at the back of the tongue before
smoothly sliding down the gullet, swathed in sweetness. It's the mix
of pain and
delight in the Jack Rose that we just can't say no to.

Mixed with 1 1/2 ounces applejack and an ounce lime juice (or 1/2 an
ounce lemon juice), followed by half an ounce grenadine, the Jack Rose
has the tang of Jersey Lightning and the sappy charm of grenadine.
The lime is the bridge from one to the other. But it's not the Jack
deep-laid taste, only hinting at apple, that attracts imbibers.
Instead, it's the drink's hue - not quite red, not quite pink - that
draws us to the

We had just assumed the Jack Rose was named for its color. After all,
Albert S. Crockett, author of the 1934 Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar, wrote
that the Jack Rose, or Jacque Rose, was "the exact shade of a
Jacqueminot rose, when properly concocted." The rose, in turn, is
named after
French general Jean-Fran├žois Jacqueminot, who endured from 1787 until
1865. Some suggest the drink was named after the general, but we're
certain that can't be: The French would never allow a drink mixed
with the Yankee cousin of their fine apple brandy, Calvados, to be
tied to their

Our efforts to find a more believable christening of the Jack Rose
took us to the Colts Neck Inn of Colts Neck, New Jersey: "The great,
grandpa of the Laird family, the restaurant's first owner and the
only distiller left making applejack, invented it," says Nelson
Fastige, a Colts
Neck bartender for the last 14 years. "His name was Jack, and the
drink was a reddish pink color, like the rose." A modest enough tale
almost inspired us to stop our search. But not having put in a good
day's work, we decided to call the Laird family in Scobeyville, New
"The Jack Rose cocktail was not invented at the Colts Neck Inn as
some believe. Nor was it created by a Laird family ancestor," Lisa
Laird-Dunn, the Laird & Company's VP and a member of the family's
ninth generation, told us. "One of the more colorful myths is in fact
not fiction.... During the late 1800s, there was a gentleman by the
name of Jack Rose, from New York City. He was regarded as somewhat of
shady character who made his living in and around City Hall and the
New York courts. Mr. Rose's favorite beverage was applejack, and he
consumed it mixed with lemon juice and grenadine. He became known for
this cocktail, thus it was dubbed the Jack Rose."

We certainly like the idea of a gangster rogue, instead of a
presumably well-behaved and well-aged gentleman, sipping the Jack
Rose. So we
called it a day and tried to find an establishment that would serve
us a round of Jack Roses. But alas, no luck. If they weren't trying
to swap
Calvados for applejack, then they were set on serving the cocktail
with apple brandy - all while charging us an extra 50 cents per
drink. We'll
actually take these substitutes in a pinch, but attest the Jack Rose
is far from the same without that applejack burn. Besides, if we're
going to sip
apple brandy, we'd rather have it straight. Occasionally, to coax the
mixer into meeting our demands, we'll quote from Ms. Laird-Dunn: "The
drink became very popular in the early 1900s and remained so after
the repeal of Prohibition. There wasn't a restaurant in New York City
did not serve the Jack Rose." To which most bartenders reply that we
ought to consider a move.

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