Nightly drink: The Jack Rose Cocktail – two ways

Jack Rose cocktail - two ways

Most sources I’ve seen uses the standard recipe below. Due to the higher proportion of lime juice, it has a sharper citrus bite. To me, this creates a very “fresh”, even bracing quality. The flavor is most reminiscent of sour apples. However, in this version, the grenadine is much less pronounced. Therefore, after the initial citrus kick wears off, you’re left with a more superficial drink that lacks character.

Standard Jack Rose (left)

  • 2 oz. Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
  • 1 oz. Lime Juice
  • 0.5 oz. Homemade Grenadine*

Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. No garnish needed, but some people like to add a lime wheel or lemon twist.

The slightly modified Jack Rose

I usually prefer my drinks to be a little bit on the drier and tarter side. However, the standard Jack Rose recipe just seems a bit too tart for me. Also, as I’ve explained, it’s somewhat one-dimensional.

Here, I’ve opted to slightly tweak the recipe to see how it goes. I’ve replaced the traditional lime juice with lemon juice (this seems to be quite common). I’ve also increased the proportion of grenadine so that it is close to 1:1 ration with the lemon juice.

This modified version of the Jack Rose is softer and smoother. The drink has not been completely defanged, but the citrus bite has been tamed considerably. With the grenadine playing a more prominent role, the pomegranate comes through, creating a “rounder” character and providing a slightly fruitier flavor. In this version, the nuances of the apple brandy are also more accentuated.

Although this drink is altogether sweeter than the standard recipe, it is not cloying. It remains tart and bright while displaying a more robust character.

Slightly modified Jack Rose (right)

  • 2 oz. Laird’s Bonded Apply Brandy
  • 0.75 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 0.75 oz. Homemade Grenadine (actually a little less…probably about 0.7 or 0.65 oz.)

Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

On Grenadine

Please make your own grenadine at home. Do not buy those bright red, food coloring-laden, HFCS-filled monstrosities you see at the supermarket (especially Rose’s). There are some decent brands of grenadine out there, but it’s so easy to make your own, that there really isn’t any point.  Here’s how I made mine:

Homemade Grenadine

  • 1 cup POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice
  • 1 cup Sugar in the Raw (Turbinado Sugar)
  • 1 oz. Cognac
  • 1 oz. Vodka (used as a preservative)
  • 1 oz. Pama Liqueur
  • 6 drops Orange Flower Water


I just combined everything in an empty bottle and shook it up until the sugar dissolved completely. The addition of Cognac and Pama isn’t necessary, but welcome.

Here are some helpful links on grenadine:

Fine Cooking

Cocktail Chronicles

Check out this video on the Jack Rose by Robert Hess.

How do you make a Jack Rose?

One Comment

  1. Rafa March 14, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    This is great. The Jack Rose is a great drink template that can result in drinks from the tart and bracing to the cloyingly sweet; everyone has their own preferred balance. I like to mix equal parts lemon and lime in mine against a slightly smaller amount of very concentrated grenadine. Sometimes cranberry syrup is a nice substitution. Unsweetened cranberry juice might make a successful “sour” component against a more neutral sweetener, but at that point it’s a different drink.

    I’ve been wondering how well a “Jack Rose” would work if it were soured with malic acid, which has a bright green apple tartness. Going to experiment and see.

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