Apple martini, or appletini, has a strange allure – you may not like it but when you do, you don’t want it to be any other way! Of course, the cocktail isn’t just for women despite its reputation as a ladies’ drink because men can also enjoy it without risking being labelled as effeminate. Not that there’s something wrong with being effeminate but you get the point, hopefully.
But like it or hate it, the appletini is here to stay although it isn’t as popular now as it was once before more than 20 years ago. You can order it in numerous bars, bistros and even restaurants like TGI Friday’s as well as make it at home with a few readily-available ingredients. You don’t have to love it so much that you can’t leave without it but it’s a go-to cocktail for days when you need a sweetish pick-me-up.
Definite Origins Recorded
Unlike the cosmopolitan and martini, both of which are considered as timeless drinks, the appletini has a well-known origin story. Every bartender who knows his stuff points to Lola’s, a club and restaurant in Los Angeles, California that closed in 2013 after 17 years in business.
On the Fourth of July weekend in 1997, just a year after Lola’s opened its doors, owner Loren Dunsworth asked bartender Adam Karsten to create a cocktail from a bottle of Ketel One vodka and a bottle of Sour Apple Pucker schnapps. Both the vodka and schnapps weren’t being used too much and Dunsworth wanted to put them to good use.
Karsten mixed the two liquids together, soaked a slice of Granny Smith apple in lemon juice, and floated the slice on top of the vodka-schnapps cocktail and voila! The appletini was born. Even then, the appletini tasted like an apple Jolly Rancher so it was both new and familiar, a combination that partly fuelled its meteoric rise to popularity, first in Lola’s and then eventually across the country.
Dunsworth named it Adam’s Apple in honor of its maker but, over time, its maker’s name was dropped and customers just ordered apple martini. With equal parts schnapps and vodka, with a splash of simple syrup, the appletini was a near-instant hit, especially with the young ladies who liked that it was a little of everything. It was a little sweet but it was also a little sour so there was a balance of flavors, not to mention that it was pretty and easy to drink.
And, yes, the appletini was popular with the men, too, who may have been worried about looking soft, so to speak, but who still ordered it probably more than they should have.
But it must also be noted that the late 1990s was the time when the Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls and Hanson dominated radio, West Hollywood was known for its hedonism, and the country still maintained its innocence – 9/11 and the Great Recession was unthinkable then.
There was also the fact that Lola’s offered a bewildering array of martinis so much so that there was a martini for every occasion and mood. Think lychee martinis, melon martinis, and banana martinis, as well as espresso martinis, chocolate martinis, and pumpkin martinis, even martinis with edible glitter because, well, it can be done and it’s Christmas. James Bond would have been hard-pressed to choose.
Different Versions Made
As previously mentioned, the ingredients for the original appletini was vodka, Sour Apple Pucker schnapps and simple. If you don’t know it by now, Sour Apple Pucker schnapps gives the appletini its radioactive green hue, radiant appearance, and melted Jolly Rancher flavor.
But as time went on, every bar and bartender developed their own version of the appletini. Sometimes, they add a dash of sweet-and-sour mix or triple sec that elevates the flavor – or as some people will say, transforms the flavor from bold to loud. No matter the version, however, every appletini is decidedly and unrepentantly sugary so it may or may not be up your alley, particularly if you’re partial to dry cocktails.
The appletini at TGI Friday’s has premium vodka, sweet and sour mix, and sour apple liqueur, if you want to know. It’s still a popular drink among the young people because it’s still boozy without hitting your mouth and throat like a truck, thanks to its sweet and sour flavors.
There was even an appletini made by Bethenny Frankel, a self-styled talk show host and beverage mogul, for her Skinnygirl Cocktails line. In this case, the appletini feature Frankel’s Bare Naked Vodka and we have to say that it tasted almost as good as TGI Friday’s and Lola’s but cocktails are always a matter of taste so we speak for ourselves only.
Today, the appletini may not be the most popular – the martini and cosmopolitan still rule the roster – but it has certainly held its ground.