Applejack, Cocktails, Hard Cider, Road Trips

Black Dirt Distillery Applejack


(Image via

I ducked into Clover Club, one of Brooklyn’s best cocktail bars, over the weekend to kill time before a movie. A lot of people like to goof on mixology bars for being twee and overpriced and Clover club certainly has all the trappings of a neo-cocktail joint (every bartender in a vest, homemade bitters, etc.) but damn if they don’t mix some fine drinks. It was a busy Saturday night, so I patiently waited to get the attention of the slammed bar staff. It’s impressive to see these guys put these cocktails together so fast – some of these drinks are complicated and have all types of garnishes and fancy ice. I would suck at this job.


I ordered a Jack Rose, which I’ve posted about before. It’s made with applejack (apple brandy), a cider drinker’s favorite spirit. The Jack Rose is a pretty simple drink, so the best ingredients are a must.


(Image via Black Dirt Distillery)

I decided to pick up a bottle of Applejack for my liquor cabinet and stopped into Bottle Rocket, a very nice wine shop near Union Square. They had Laird’s, which is the industry standard applejack, but I also spied a bottle from Black Dirt Distillery. I asked a worker for a recommendation and he said that the Black Dirt was “rougher.” I decided to go for it (I’ve had Laird’s before, so why not?) I made myself a Jack Rose at home using Grenadine from Jack Rudy Cocktail Co.

You’ve got to use good grenadine if you’re making a Jack Rose, otherwise you’ll ruin it. You also have to decide between lemon or lime juice. In the past, I’ve advocated lime, even though the standard recipe is for lemon. These days, I’m using lemons. I go back and forth. The Black Dirt and the Jack Rudy made a good pair and I thought my Jack Rose was just as good as anything a mixologist could whip up (admittedly, it is a pretty simple drink).

One thing the guy at Bottle Rocket didn’t tell me was that Black Dirt Distillery is Warwick Valley Winery’s company. Warwick Valley Winery is better known as the maker of Doc’s Hard Cider, which is fairly ubiquitous in New York. They’re not exactly hiding the fact that they’re related, but I guess they wanted to make a separate brand for their liquors. Black Dirt also makes bourbon, which I haven’t tried yet. Doc’s always comes in a lot of flavors, maybe now that they’re making bourbon a bourbon-barrel cider is on the way? Bad Seed makes a good bourbon barrel cider. I say go for it.

We actually visited Warwick Valley Winery back in 2013 for our annual fall road trip to cider county. You can read about that trip here (and our 2014 Hudson Valley cider trip here). We’re planning on heading upstate again later this month and will be posting all about it. Stay tuned for that.


I always try to remind people that cider is a year-round drink, it’s not just an seasonal autumn thing like Pumpkin spice lattes. But still, you gotta live some hard cider in the fall.


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