The History of the Jack Rose Cocktail

An article I wrote for Chilled Magazine.

Rosy and smooth, the Jack Rose’s history isn’t as sweet as the cocktail might have you think. There are various theories about this drink’s origin, the most common being that it was invented and named after the infamous gambler and accused murderer, Bald Jack Rose, who became somewhat of a celebrity in New York during the early 1900s.

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Another theory is that the Jack Rose was invented by restaurateur Joseph P. Rose (who once held the title of the World’s Champion Mixologist) from Newark, New Jersey and named by him in honor of a defendant in a trial that was held at the courthouse in his city. Others believe the Old Waldorf Bar Days (1931), authored by Albert Stevens Crockett, which states the drink was named after the pink Jacquemot rose, a flower grown in France. The simplest explanation would be that it was named after the flush of color from its ingredients, but despite the different angles of the Jack Rose’s whereabouts, Harvey’s Famous Restaurant in Washington, D.C. first claimed to be the originator of the cocktail.  

As it was popular in the 1920s and 1930s, the drink made an appearance in Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 classic, The Sun Also Rises. When the narrator Jake Barnes is waiting for Lady Brett Ashley to arrive at the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, he’s seen sipping a Jack Rose at the bar.

With its delicate glow and refreshing taste, this classic potion uses raspberry syrup or Chambord to get its blushed complexion. Its traditional ingredients include applejack, grenadine and lime or lemon juice.

Though there are slight variations of the Jack Rose, Brand Manager for Chambord Trademark at Brown-Forman, Sean Wachsman said Chambord enhances the drink’s flavors instead of altering its properties. “Chambord replaces the grenadine bringing a deeper, richer color to the cocktail, in addition to more sweet, cognac and berry notes,” he said. “It’s very smooth with a consistent layer of flavor.”

As it’s considered a basic drink, the Jack Rose is quick and simple to shake up. According to Wachsman, “It’s flavorful and light from a sessionability standpoint.” With its satisfying pucker, the Jack Rose goes down easily, making it a comfortable cocktail to sip on during a fun, low-key night.

Ingredients:

2 ounces applejack

1 ounce lime or lemon juice

1/2 ounce Chambord or grenadine

Preparation:

Shake the applejack and other ingredients with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

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