When you live in Virginia, history is all around you. One Friday evening at my favorite watering hole, I got both a history lesson and a drinking lesson. That lesson is now one of my one of my favorite drinks. It is called the Royal Apple.
Hard cider was an important part of life for the colonists and the Founding Fathers. Not only was cider a safe alternative to water, it was also easier to make than beer due to the growing conditions required for apples compared to those required for barley and hops. It is well-documented that John Adams started each day with a tankard of hard cider at breakfast. Thomas Jefferson took great pride in the cider apples he grew at Monticello, and George Washington served hard cider to his supporters in the lead-up to his Presidential election in 1789.
Rum was also a beloved and prominent beverage in the American colonies. Rum was imported to the colonies from Jamaica, but by 1740 at least 140 distilleries were making domestic rum in the colonies. Rum was so popular in colonial America that Ed Crews stated, “Rum was king of the colonies before the Revolutionary War.”
The Royal Apple is a historic drink that features both hard cider and rum. It also includes a little splash of lime juice and sugar. This drink was preserved by Chowning’s Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg. As the story is told at Chowning’s Tavern, this drink was enjoyed by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry as they planned and executed the American Revolution. On that Friday night happy hour referenced above, I learned this drink from a local pharmacist named Charles Moss. He scratched the recipe down for me on a napkin. I am now sharing the recipe with with you.
12 oz hard cider (Bold Rock Amber Cider is my preferred brand. It’s brewed locally in Nelson County, VA.)
1 oz light rum
1 Tbs lime juice
1/2 tsp sugar
Put a few ice cubes in a cocktail shaker. Combine the ingredients, and shake gently. You don’t want to waste all the fizz of the cider. If you shake it too hard, the cap will pop off. Pour the contents into a glass filled with ice or a frosted pint glass. Enjoy!
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