Cocktails of Our Lives: The Apple Jack

by Victoria Barrett

Image via Victoria Barrett

Image via Victoria Barrett

Apple Jack cocktail recipe

A note on taste: The true Apple Jack is made of apple cider and Jack Daniels. But like all good recipes, and everything else that's good in life, this one has been time-tested and improved.

Total time: 2 minutes

Serves: 1 very tired mother of a toddler and an infant, or anyone who's of age, really, and has a sweet tooth but also a refined palate.


  • 2 oz bourbon (preferably Knob Creek, but Maker's Mark will do in a pinch)
  • Fresh apple cider to taste

Read more: Cocktails of Our Lives: A Sincerely Questionable Screwdriver


  1. Visit the apple orchard you visited as a child. This is your happy place, where you remember spending one of your happiest childhood days. No matter that the orchard has changed hands at least twice since you were a child, nor that the happy day you remember was capped off by projectile vomiting because, since no one was watching, you ate seven entire apples, despite being a very small five-year-old, just to see if you could, and the apples hadn't even been washed and were probably still coated on every surface with pesticide, which hasn't killed you yet, but may still at any time.
  2. Take your children with. Go on a weekday, despite your batshit-insane schedule, and despite the intermittent rain, because the orchard has jumped on the whole farm-tourism bandwagon and on the weekend they charge you an arm and a leg to stand in line to slide down a makeshift plank tilted on piled bales of hay, and no, you can't just pick apples and leave, you have to have the $10 armband to even so much as look at the trees. On a weekday, despite a few puddles here and there and some very funky mud, you can have the orchard to yourself to wander wide-eyed from tree to tree as though you are the toddler, not your kid who is confined to the stroller.
  3. Spend about $75 on apples and apple-adjacent products, between what you've picked yourself and what you can find in the souped-up farm store, so much more packed with knick-knacks and junk than it was when you were a kid. Make sure that some portion of that $75 is spent on at least a gallon of house-made cider. Remember that you stepped on a bee in the cider house on a tour when you were little, and also that it seemed that a whole lot of bees were getting smushed in the cider press, and then keep in mind that you will probably be inadvertently drinking bees.
  4. At home, put the kids to bed. This is important: The Apple Jack is fucking delicious no matter your age, and you don't want your toddler acquiring a taste for mid-range bourbon at such a tender age. (Also: Never leave your drink unattended. Those toddlers can be sneaky, even after you've tucked them in. Also the dog might drink it. He loves apples.)
  5. Fill a heavy-bottomed rocks glass with ice. Make it a big one. You don't want to have to get up in 20 minutes to pour again.
  6. Add bourbon.
  7. Fill to brim with cider. Be sure to shake the cider first, hard. You want those little gritty apple/bee bits for extra flavor.
  8. Drink outdoors on a crisp night, baby monitor tucked into your sweatshirt pocket. For maximum effect, start a small fire. Lean back in a comfortable chair and think about how you got from that sunny day 37 years ago to this clear evening, but don't think too hard. The Apple Jack isn't a thinking drink. 

Read more: A Maker's Mark Old Fashioned for Old-Fashioned Ladies


Victoria Barrett's fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Glimmer Train, Salon, PANK, and other outlets. She lives and writes in a house full of men and boys (even the pets) and tries not to feel too bad about it.