Laird’s Apple Jack- America’s First Licensed Distillery

It’s autumn now and that makes me think of applejack… Laird’s applejack is not whiskey, but it was the first licensed distillery in the United States. I’m particularly proud of the beverage because I grew up in New Jersey and have been to the Inn where it was originally served many times. Laird’s Applejack was originally produced for sale at the Colt’s Neck Inn in central New Jersey. The Inn was built in 1717 by an ancestor of the Laird family, and the apple brandy they served to travelers there was reportedly very popular. The distillery at the Colt’s Neck site was built in 1780 and thrived until it burned down in 1849. The Inn was rebuilt on the same site, but the distillery was moved to Scobeyville, N.J. Laird’s survived Prohibition (they were granted a...

William McKinley’s Political Cocktail

Today was the day President McKinley was shot… What does this have to do with whiskey, you ask? William McKinley had a cocktail named after him while he was running for president in 1896. Of course, so did his opponent, William Jennings Bryan…(Bryan’s was the Free Silver Fizz) Handing out booze was common practice when running for office. Even George Washington knew that handing out free liquor was the best way to secure votes. In fact, the first reference we have to the term “cocktail” comes from 1806, in a newspaper article describing how a Federalist defeated a Democratic-Republican candidate in New York’s Hudson River Valley despite the latter’s attempt to secure votes by handing out almost 300 mixed drinks....