The Paladin's Orchard - Applejack and Mead
This is a good summer sipper - recipe first, story time after.
The Paladin's Orchard
1.5 oz. - Applejack
1.5 oz. - Mead
0.75 oz. - Honey Syrup
0.5 oz. - Lemon Juice
0.25 - 0.5 oz. - Grenadine
Put everything but the grenadine into a shaker with ice and shake it up. Pour over a large ice cube in a rocks glass.
Garnish with mint and fanned out apple slices, speared with a pick to hold it all together. Pour a line or two of grenadine over the mint and apples and let it ooze into the drink. Optional: place a honey dipper dipped in grenadine into the drink.
I've always loved the medieval aesthetic. I love the look of shining armor, flails and great swords - all of it captures my imagination; kings, queens, crowns and royal courts. When I'm in a creative mode, that's typically where I begin - "how can I work a knight's helm into this idea?" So when I started thinking about cocktail themes and mead as an ingredient, specifically, I knew I could easily get away with throwing a medieval spin onto it as mead was a popular drink amongst lords and ladies of the Middle Ages. I also had the idea floating around to do an applejack-based cocktail of some kind. Eventually these two ideas merged and spawned the first draft of this cocktail - mead, applejack, lemon juice and honey syrup.
By this point, I began to form an image in my head; I pictured sipping this drink and a scene unfolded. A tired, worn knight returning to his homestead after some arduous quest. Bloodied and in need of respite - finding it in a peaceful grove of budding fruit trees. Bees floating from blossom to blossom in the afternoon sun; a breeze shifting the branches around and gently pulling petals from their blooms. He reaches this haven, sheds his heavy defenses, sprawls beneath the shade of one of his trees and rests his eyes for a while. That's what I was aiming for - but in a glass.
I think I came pretty close. This drink is a great cocktail for the hotter months, it's also thoroughly crushable (but resist the urge to pound them down and do drink responsibly), I could see it providing that respite one might crave from a hot, summer day. All of the flavors seem to combine to nullify any alcohol harshness (not that mead or applejack are particularly harsh in the first place) to leave you with a tart, apple-juice flavor. The honey syrup succumbs to the lemon but isn't totally lost as it lends a dark sweetness that's truly unique to honey. The lemon is naturally punchy and can really mask the other flavors if you add more than a half ounce.
I'm really pleased with how this one turned out and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Thanks for reading.
Side note about the name: I used the term Paladin because, in one of the documents chronicling my family tree (The Greens), it's rumored that Charlemagne is tucked back in our lineage somewhere and the peers of Charlamagne's court were called Paladins.
Side-side note about the spirits involved in this drink: I used applejack from a nearby distillery called Eight Oaks and the mead came from another local spot called the Colony Meadery. Both places produce high quality stuff and I recommend checking them out if you get the chance. Another meadery/winery that I feel like I have to mention is Stonekeep Meadery and Wine Cellars - they make my favorite meads and their port is unreal; I actually brought a bottle of one of their melomels (fruited mead) to my wedding reception as my own special drink for the evening - great stuff.
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