Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman


Earlier this summer, I met a friend out in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. (Could a novelist invent a more unlikely name for a town?) It’s semi-rural and on the edge of rural, a quaint town with an actual falls, a candy shop, and Jeni’s Ice Cream. Head out of town, south, and you’re quickly passing farmland. This is where my friend wanted to take me. Just over the edge into the next county, Geauga, off the road a bit, so removed we passed the drive and had to circle back, is a house, a small distillery, and a barn filled with barrels. The distillery is called Tom’s Foolery, started by Tom Herbruck, who, with his wife, Lianne, and their kids, make some exquisite applejack, America’s first commercial spirit, and likely the common drink in the new colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries.

What I love most is that Tom is doing this because he has to or, rather, he can’t stop himself. And he’s so eager to talk and write about it, he’s deserving of a broader post. For now, though, in summer, with the Fourth of July past us, and feeling an acute need for America to be great once again (if the Founding Fathers were to wake up in Washington, DC, today, I think they’d never stop throwing up), I’m going to do a couple more cocktails with applejack, a brandy with a distinct sweetness, made from apple cider that has been fermented, distilled, and barrel aged. Thank you, Tom and Lianne, for making this fine nectar.

This is my kind of patriotic spirit.


Applejack Sour

  • 2 ounces applejack
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • Lemon wheel, for garnish
  • Lime wheel, for garnish
  1. Blend or dry-shake all ingredients—I buzz mine in the shaker with a hand blender.
  2. Add ice to the shaker, swirl for 60-90 seconds to chill, and strain it over ice in a rocks glass, garnishing it with lemon and lime.

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© 2014 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2014 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.