Applejack was a well known "cider spirit" throughout growing America. In the 1820’s, American evangelist John Chapman, better known as "Johnny Appleseed", preached to congregations along the Ohio River Valley, and distributed apple seeds to his followers. He also instructed them in the production of Applejack- hence the continued popularity of Applejack in this region.
Mixing it up with AppleJack
Probably the closest thing to America’s first mixed drink was one known as “stone-wall.” According to writer Alice Morse Earle, this early eighteenth century concoction included rum and cider as well as applejack, and was highly potent.
Applejack figured well in many popular early American punches and drinks, at least partly because it was the most available distilled spirit in the East. During William Henry Harrison’s presidential campaign in 1840, cider flowed so freely at Whig rallies that Harrison became known as the Hard Cider Candidate. Eligible voters were invited to feasts at which quantities of hard cider laced with applejack were consumed. One reporter later declared that “spirit” had won Harrison the election.
Legend has it that one stormy night in 1887, a poverty-stricken Absecon, N.J. woman unhappily delivering her seventh child at a Smithville inn shouted that she hoped it would be a “devil.” It is said that her wish came true and the “Jersey Devil,” described as having the body of a kangaroo, head of a collie, face of a horse and wings of a giant bat, has been haunting the surrounding forests ever since. Supposedly, the bartender at the inn then invented a drink he dubbed the “Jersey Devil.” Those who downed a number of these would swear they’d seen the devil on their way home.
However, the cocktail as we know it today didn’t come into its own until the 20th century. Since it is usually served chilled, we may suppose that the spread of electric refrigeration played as much a part in its growth as the new lifestyle ushered in by Prohibition.
Applejack was a widely used cocktail ingredient. During Prohibition, a drink of two parts hard cider to one part applejack, called Stonewall Jackson, enjoyed a vogue among the hardy.
The Jack Rose was also born during this period. Smooth, sophisticated and good tasting, it outlasted the Jazz Age to become a classic. Since then, bartenders around the world have added to the applejack repertoire. Most prefer to use it in its blended 80-proof form, in which it has the same potency as whiskey, but retains the unique and delicious flavor and bouquet of ripe apples.