Why Some Bartenders Are Rooting For The Return Of The Appletini

Bright green appletinis were listed on menus at French bistros and Applebee's restaurants alike in the late '90s: vodka, Sour Apple Pucker, lemon juice, and Cointreau resulted in a neon drink that arrived at tables garnished with apple slices or maraschino cherries in a classic martini glass (via Punch Drink).

The drink, Punch Drink writes, first appeared at a West Hollywood bar named Lola's. Lola's was an institution, a place to spot celebrities, play pool, and order off an elaborate martini menu that included drinks like The "Cirque du Soleil," a concoction made with saké, vermouth, ginger, and edible glitter, per Gayot

"They were easy to drink because you didn't really taste the alcohol," Lola's owner Loren Dunsworth told Liquor. "People were abusing them. I thought, Let's take it off for a while. But there was such an uproar that we quickly ended up putting it back." After 17 years, Dunsworth closed her establishment, LA Weekly noted, but the appletini lives on.

A quick invention with staying power

Loren Dunsworth was initially approached by a Ketel One rep who wanted to make a special drink. As reported by Liquor, Lola's bartender delivered a sweet and sour drink that looked like it came out of a science lab. The apple slices used to garnish the drink were marinated in iced lemon juice and water, while other bars opted for a maraschino cherry; more recently, you're likely to find a dehydrated apple slice floating in your drink (via Difford's Guide).

Bartender skills and the available ingredients have improved since then. Though appletinis were originally made with generic sweet liqueurs, higher-quality spirits and discerning palates have contributed to the latest cocktail revival, notes The New York Times. Bartenders like Julie Reiner have set out to improve recipes to pour sharper, smoother drinks. Reiner's updated version of the appletini uses apple-infused vodka, apple liqueur, and sparkling cider; her latest recipe mixes apple-infused gin and vodka, apple brandy, and apple liqueur. Travel Distilled recommends using gin instead of vodka and adding vermouth to make something closer to a classic martini with apple notes. 

Bartenders and mixologists have had plenty of opportunities to experiment with unique cocktails since the inception of the appletini, so give it another look, even if it's just for nostalgia.