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The Appletini: A Brief History Of The Trendsetting Cocktail

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Sometime in the late ‘90s, when fashion was going through an identity crisis and boy bands reigned supreme, the martini was evolving into a new avatar of its own. This occurred in a Los Angeles club called Lola’s, where the enterprising owner and the bartender came up with a drink that mixed apple schnapps with vodka. They called this cocktail the Adam’s Apple Martini, later shortened to Apple Martini, and even later, to the Appletini. Its garnish was a refreshing delight: a slice of Granny Smith apple, steeped in lemon juice and ice water. 

It became instantly popular with the chic set, though purists scoffed at the notion of having anything besides the requisite vodka or gin, vermouth, and an olive or a lemon twist, in a drink that went under the “martini” moniker. For those who were open to experimenting with a new flavour, however, the Appletini was nothing short of a party in a glass: a little sweet, a little sour, and a whole lot of fun. Women especially seemed to enjoy this new cocktail a lot.

A Star Is Born

Over time, the Appletini’s fame grew. Lola’s would see huge lines — even Hollywood celebrities were queuing up — of customers who wanted to dine in, and of course sip on the glamorous new cocktail. It began showing up in pop culture: a TV show here, a movie there. And bartenders were experimenting too, to come up with their own twists on the Appletini — some more successful than others. The apple garnish was now often replaced with a maraschino cherry. One enterprising mixologist added a touch of cinnamon and sparkling cider to the basic Appletini recipe, leading to an equally delicious offshoot: the Cinnamonitini, which had a flavour reminiscent of homemade apple pie!


Entering The Hall Of Fame

Years later, its popularity may have risen and ebbed and risen once again, but the Appletini certainly hasn’t faded into oblivion. Bars around the globe — with unfettered access to a variety of ingredients — have tried to “upgrade” the drink as well. For instance, at craft cocktail bars, fresh apple juice, artisanal apple liqueurs and homegrown sour mixes have all been experimented with.

Difford’s Guide recommends using about 50 ml of Ketel One Vodka with 25 ml of a sour apple liqueur, 10 ml of sugar syrup, and 5 ml each of lime cordial, lemon juice (freshly squeezed) and lime juice (also freshly squeezed). The resulting drink is described as “fun and brash”, aptly capturing just what made the Appletini such a bestseller to begin with.


In The Present

The Appletini is found on cocktail menus all over the world, such is its ubiquity. But on the off chance that you step into one where its name isn’t among the drinks listed, you can look for its original name — “Adam’s Apple Martini”. Occasionally, you’ll find that some places, where a more localised version of the drink is served (with a tweak to the original recipe) may have renamed the cocktail — as with the Washington Apple Martini, which adds cranberry juice to the other, classic ingredients. Oh, and if you happen to visit a bar on the 13th of May, ask if they have a deal on this particular cocktail: it is designated as World Appletini Day after all!

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