With the primary ingredient hard cider, I thought it a particularly apt cocktail for our discussion of apples in America! I chose apples as the topic for tonight's Food History Happy Hour because mid-September is when apple harvest in the Northeast usually really starts to get underway. Coincidentally (on my part, anyway), tonight is also the start Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year, which runs until Sunday. One of the components of Rosh Hashanah is the use of apples and honey, particularly in Ashkenazi Jewish households, who originate in Eastern Europe. Apples and honey are eaten to symbolize sweetness and prosperity for the coming year.
On a more somber note, I learned that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away just minutes before the start of the show. In fact, I almost didn't do tonight's episode because I was so upset. But I figured that the notorious RBG would power through if it was her, and it was fitting to be talking about apples and hoping for peace and prosperity in the coming New Year. So we poured one out for Ruth and gave her a toast.
We talked about the origins of hard cider, with an aside about the 1840 presidential campaign of William Henry Harrison, why hard cider fell out of favor, the origins of apples in the mountains of Kazakhstan, Johnny Appleseed, the story of Red Delicious, heirloom apple varieties, and the not-so-American origins of apple pie.
Jersey Cooler (1946)
- 3 dashes angostura bitters, 2 cubes ice in 10 oz glass, fill with hard cider.
You can see other, slightly more complicated versions below:
Jersey Cocktail (1862)
Here's his recipe:
(Use small bar glass.)
1 teaspoonful of sugar.
2 dashes of bitters.
Fill tumbler with cider, and mix well, with lemon peel on top.
- The Last Wild Apple Forests (Gastro Obscura)
- I Went to the Fatherland of All Modern Apples (Vice Munchies)
- Apple Pie Is Not All That American (Smithsonian Magazine)
- Why Apple Pie Isn’t So American After All (Food52)
- Orangepippin.com - THE best resource for finding and learning about heirloom apples (and other orchard fruits) from around the world.
- And of course, my own History Bites: Apples in America podcast.
Our next episode will be on Friday, October 2, 2020 and since it will officially be October, we'll be talking about pumpkins and the origins of the much-maligned pumpkin spice!