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Properly Sauced: The Stone Fence

By Roger Kamholz in Food on Oct 20, 2011 7:40PM

2011_10_20_stone-fence.jpgAh, the Stone Fence. Invented in colonial America, it's the liquid courage that is said to have steeled Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys in their miraculous capture of Fort Ticonderoga during the Revolution. The Stone Fence is one of the easiest-to-make, most versatile cocktails we know of, and it's got fall written all over it. After a recent visit to Michigan yielded a peck of honeycrisp apples, we were inspired to do some seasonally appropriate experimentation with this ages-old recipe.

A Stone Fence consists of bourbon, rye or dark rum, topped with hard cider and chilled with a couple of ice cubes. Basically, use whatever's handy. How simple and versatile is that? Back in Ethan Allen's day, rum was the spirit of most convenience (early America was flush with the stuff). By the mid-1800s, bourbon had taken its place in the Stone Fence recipe codified by the legendary barman Jerry Thomas. After making Stone Fences with different ciders and base spirits, the most pleasing combination came when we began by muddling a few slices of honeycrisp apple with a touch of sugar. The fresh apple juice brought just enough sweetness to balance out the sharpness of hard cider and the heat of raw spirit.

As for the latter two ingredients, Sam Smith's Organic Cider and Wild Turkey straight rye whiskey emerged victorious in our tastings, which beat out the Overproof and dark rums we tried, as well as a couple of uninspiring hard ciders. But the beauty of the Stone Fence is that you can tailor it to your tastes. Try it a few ways.

Stone Fence

1 quarter honeycrisp apple, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon cane sugar
2 ounces rye
hard cider

Muddle apple slices and sugar in a shaker tin. Add rye and ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a tall glass. Add 2-3 ice cubes and top with hard cider. Garnish with more apple slices.