Everyone has their own favorite way of celebrating Independence Day: Fireworks, barbecued hot dogs and hamburgers and waving flags and drinking beer. Many of us like to drink a toast to celebrate Independence Day and rightly so. After all, winning our independence was a crazy booze-fueled ride and we should toast it with pride, teetotalers be damned! We are a nation built on strong drink! Long before Budweiser, or Jack Daniels our founders drank a whole lot of cider and apple brandy. In those days, thanks no doubt to Johnny Appleseed, apples were abundant.
“The popular image is of Johnny Appleseed spreading apple seeds randomly, everywhere he went. In fact, he planted nurseries rather than orchards, built fences around them to protect them from livestock, left the nurseries in the care of a neighbor who sold trees on shares, and returned every year or two to tend the nursery. Though apples grown from seed are rarely sweet or tasty, Apple orchards with sour apples were popular among the settlers because apples were mainly used for producing hard cider and apple jack.” (Wikipedia)
Did you think all those apples were for pie?
Apple brandy! Yeah I said it apple frickin’ brandy. If apple brandy or applejack sound unfamiliar to you it is because in thirteen years American Prohibition changed the way americans drink. So many brewers and distillers went out of business that it changed America’s drinking habits to this very day. To the uninitiated apple brandy might sound a little weird but trust me our Founding Fathers drank tons of the stuff.
The Laird distillery in New Jersey is the first and oldest commercial distillery in the united states sporting licence #1. The Laird family has been making their apple brandy and applejack since they arrived on U.S. Soil in 1698. If you can find a bottle of Lairds you can have a taste of true Americana. A bottle of Lairds is a great way to toast those great Americans who came before.
Today, cider is making a major comeback and there are several new cider makers. One of my favorites is Wandering Aengus from Salem Oregon. They have an extensive line of delicious ciders, after trying several of them I have two favorites, Anthem Hops, a hopped apple cider and Anthem Cherry, an apple cider with tart cherries added.
Favorites aside, if you can get your hands on some Wandering Aengus or some Laird’s apple brandy, it would be a great part of any 4th of July celebration.