Applejack is used to flavor this sauce as it complements the cider vinegar that gives the sauce its tang. Applejack is a brandy distilled from apple cider (French Calvados is the most esteemed of the apple brandies). Laird's, the original American applejack, has been made in Scobeyville, New Jersey since 1698. It's the oldest brandy distillery in the US, though they no longer distill in NJ. The apple brandy is now distilled in Virginia and blended in NJ. I used to live in Monmouth County, NJ and drove by the original distillery often. It's still surrounded by apple orchards that supplied the apples for a brandy that George Washington enjoyed.
Applejack BBQ Sauce
(makes about 3 cups)
1 cup applejack
1 cup ketchup
1 cup apple cider vinegar
½ medium onion, minced
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons Tabasco sauce (optional)
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to maintain a low boil and cook until thickened, about 25-30 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching at the bottom. Sauce can be used immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 months.
Adapted from Barbecue Bible Sauces, Rubs and Marinades by Steven Raichlen, Workman Publishing Company, 2000.