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922 South Morton Street
Bloomington, IN, 47403
United States


Cardinal Spirits is a craft distillery in Bloomington, Indiana that specializes in producing extraordinary spirits from local ingredients.  

Abraham Lincoln and Applejack

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Abraham Lincoln and Applejack

Adam Quirk

Abraham Lincoln didn’t always drink liquor, but when he did, it was probably applejack. Considering he’d be celebrating his 205th birthday today, I’m pretty sure he’d be having one of his favorite cocktails—or maybe even two.

Though Lincoln mainly sipped on coffee and water, and was known as someone who ate to live, not lived to eat — a rare breed of man that needs to be studied further — he ran his own tavern in Springfield, Ill., where he sold a half pint of applejack for 12 cents.

But applejack goes back further than Lincoln.

Laird & Company, the oldest commercial distillery in the United States and only producer of applejack, is a family-run business in Scobeyville, New Jersey that started in 1780. Though the distillery’s most popular applejack today is 80 proof, a blend of 35 percent apple brandy and 65 percent neutral grain spirits aged in a used bourbon barrel for at least four years, Lincoln enjoyed pure apple juice that was fermented and distilled.

And Lincoln wasn’t alone in his applejack lovin’. Before whiskey and rum were introduced in America in the 18th century, applejack was known as America’s favorite drink. It’s even believed that George Washington, the president with whom we’d most likely associate with apples, requested the Laird’s give him their applejack recipe way back in the 1760s.

Washington dined with Moses Laird, the uncle of the Laird who started the distillery, the evening before the Battle on Monmouth, and it’s safe to assume multiple glasses of applejack were enjoyed. But enough with Washington — his birthday’s not for another week and a half. 

Today’s Abe’s day.

So in honor of the 16th president’s birthday, we’re giving you a recipe for an applejack cocktail, the Short Story, from Mouton in Columbus, Ohio:

  • Applejack
  • Rye
  • Barreled aged simple syrup
  • Pernod

Shake with ice and serve in a cocktail glass with a lemon peel.

And if you’re looking for more ways to pay tribute to Honest Abe, you can make Mary Todd Lincoln’s White Cake using her original recipe, which can be found here. It may not be the weekend, but there’s no reason you can’t celebrate on a Wednesday. So raise your glass to Lincoln, one of America’s greatest presidents, because he sure as hell deserves a toast.