You might hear someone order one every now and then, but the chances are that you haven’t seen an appletini on the menu of your favorite bar in a long time. However, the sweet and sour cocktail was the focus of a neon green-colored spotlight in the global bar scene for years.
Although they tend to be the butt end of a joke nowadays, the super-popular cocktail was symbolic of the pre-9/11 innocence that characterized the late 90’s and early aughts. Learn more about the storied history of this iconic drink, along with what you need to make it, below.
History of the Appletini
First shaken up in Lola’s, a West Hollywood bar/restaurant, on the Fourth of July in 1996, the Appletini was an immediate smash hit. The owner of Lola’s, Loren “Lola” Dunsworth, was approached by a Ketel One rep with the offer of coming up with a signature cocktail for the bar.
At the time, Ketel One was a relatively small vodka brand and was searching for ways to advertise directly to the people consuming vodka regularly.
In response, Lola told bartender Adam Karston to utilize a rarely-used bottle of apple schnapps sitting behind the bar.
Mixing a little bit of this and that, Karston eventually came up with the winning formula: equal parts DeKuyper Pucker (an apple schnapps imitation liqueur), Ketel One Vodka, and their house sweet and sour mix (typically equal parts lemon/lime juice and simple syrup).
The legendary cocktail was born and named the Appletini. Its popularity skyrocketed among the crowd at Lola’s, and within six months, word had spread to every major city in the US. Soon enough, every bar in the country had its own version of the cocktail, but Lola’s version still stood out as one of the best.
Eventually, the Appletini’s popularity waned, but the legend always remained. Now, it’s often jokingly referenced in pop culture as a sweet drink for those who can’t handle alcohol, and it’s not too far from the truth.
The Appletini’s sweet and sour flavor masks almost any trace of alcohol, meaning it can be abused quite easily.
Ingredients for an Appletini
Here are a couple of different versions you can make at home, each for one serving.
Lola’s Original Version
- Ketel One Vodka – 1.5 ounces (45ml)
- DeKuyper Pucker – 1.5 ounces (45ml)
- Sweet and Sour Mix – splash/0.5 ounce (15ml)
- Vodka of choice – 1.25 ounces (37.5ml)
- Calvados/Apple Brandy – 1.25 ounces (37.5ml)
- Apple juice (organic or high quality) – 1.25 ounces (37.5ml)
- Lemon juice – 0.25 ounces (7.5ml)
- Simple syrup – 0.25 ounces (7.5ml)
- Garnish – Three thin slices of apple
- Garnish – Maraschino cherry or brandied cherry
Directions to Make an Appletini
- Fill a martini glass with crushed ice or ice and water and let it chill on the side.
- In a Boston shaker filled with ice, add all of your liquid ingredients and shake until it is visibly chilled.
- Throw away the ice from the martini glass, and then double strain your shaker into it.
- Make three very thin apple slices and fan them. Skewer them with a cocktail pick and secure with a brandied cherry.