Enjoy an Apple Martini just for fun

Brian Rung

    An apple a day keeps the doctor away, though we can't be sure that an Apple Martini will do the same.
    The Apple Martini, or Appletini, came on to the scene in 1996 and has managed to win over scores of cocktail enthusiasts in all corners of the globe.
    The Appletini is a delicious drink that is as easy to prepare as it is to drink. Three ingredients and a shaker are all that we are going to need this week to turn out this modern classic cocktail.
    The Appletini debuted over 20 years ago at Lola's West Hollywood and was an instant smash.
    Vodka based shots containing sour apple pucker had been around prior to 1996, but the formulation got a boost in popularity when it was first served in a cocktail glass and labeled a “Martini”.  
    The Cosmopolitan rose to prominence in a similar fashion. Let's face it, we all look more elegant drinking out of a crystal clear Martini glass as opposed to a cloudy highball glass with a stir stick.
    The problem is that many among us do not have the palate for “heavy” cocktails such as the Martini and the Manhattan.  
    The solution to the problem is what I call the “pseudotini” family of cocktails that just about anyone can enjoy.
    Popular “pseudotinis” include the Cosmopolitan, Grasshopper, Brandy Alexander and the Appletini.  
    Before we go any further, remember that a Martini is traditionally gin-based.  If your Martini is made with vodka, it's a Vodkatini.
    I am aware of the fact that James Bond, Mr. 007 himself, ordered many Vodkatinis and called them Martinis. Call your drink whatever you wish to call it, just know that traditionally Martinis are made with gin and a little (very little in some cases) vermouth.  
    The Appletini started life as a “just for fun” drink, a novelty on many bar and restaurant happy hour menus.
    Fast forward 20 years and you will find the Appletini taught in nearly every bartending school. It has become one of the drinks that you must learn if you are new to mixology.  
    Vodka is the number one selling spirit in the world for two main reasons: it is inexpensive to distill and it is the most versatile of all spirits.
    Vodka has the unique ability to pick up, and some cases enhance the flavor of other ingredients. It pairs well with all citrus, soda, tonic, dairy, ginger beer and even tomato juice in the iconic Bloody Mary.
    If you are stocking your home bar for the first time, or perhaps gifting some bottles at a “stock the bar” shower, a quality vodka is a good place to start. Simply put, a bar isn't a bar without vodka.
    The good news is that a “quality” vodka can be had for less than $20 a bottle. Smirnoff is the top-selling vodka in the world and my favorite for mixing.
    There are plenty of quality vodkas on the market, like everything else in mixology it's a matter of budget and personal preference.
    Besides Smirnoff, I like Ketel One, Grey Goose, Absolut and Skyy.
    Apple pucker is an apple liqueur or schnapps and it supplies the apple kick in the Appletini.
    There are several apple-based liqueurs on the market, but the consensus in the mixology community is that the DeKuyper Sour Apple Pucker is the best liqueur for the Appletini.  
    Avoid the temptation to use store-bought sweet and sour in this, or any other cocktail. Scratch-made sweet and sour will turn out better tasting cocktails than the high fructose corn syrup laden, artificially colored stuff that is full of ingredients that you can't pronounce.
    Scratch-made sweet and sour is two parts fresh lemon juice to one part simple syrup.
    Not only is it delicious, but it will keep in the fridge for about a week.
    To make your own sweet and sour, make a half cup simple syrup by heating a half cup of water and stirring in a half cup of sugar until dissolved.
    Allow the simple syrup to cool, then add one cup of fresh lemon juice.  
    Most cocktails use between a half and one ounce of sweet and sour, so plan accordingly when you make a batch.
    A good rule of thumb for scratch-made ingredients is to always make more than you think you will need, or else you run the risk of interrupting drink service in the middle of the evening to make more simple syrup or sweet and sour.
    The Appletini is built in a shaker and served in a chilled cocktail (Martini) glass.
    Fill shaker with ice.
    Add 1  1/2 ounces vodka.
    Add 1 1/2 ounces sour apple pucker.
    Add 3/4 ounce sweet and sour.
    Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
    Until next week, enjoy responsibly.