The Intoxicologist

Friday, February 8, 2008

Getting Beyond the Core of the Appletini

One would think the Appletini would be a cinch to make. Vodka and a little apple liqueur and voila, one has the perfect cocktail set before them. Not so. This little number is a bit more sophisticated than expected. It can be a breeze for sure, but only if one wants mediocre results. Why settle for average when the exceptional is only a jigger and shake away?

The Appletini is a contemporary cocktail on the International Bartenders Association’s list of official cocktails. It is classified among the family of duo and trio drinks, meaning it is comprised of two or three ingredients. This particular family of drinks is remarkable due to the nature of its flexibility. All of the cocktails begin with only two or three ingredients, making them a fantastic building block for many more drinks to discover and create. This paves the way for duo and trio drinks to go from the ordinary to the extraordinary with only minor changes in dashes or quarter to half ounce additions of bitters, liqueurs and juices. The Appletini is no different. It can go beyond the comic book Green Goblin color to the amazing flavorful cocktail that sends the taste buds zinging with a few minor changes.

Take for instance the basic duo recipe:

Appletini – Duo

2 ounces Vodka
1 ounce Green Apple Liqueur

Pour ingredients into cocktail shaker filled 1/3 full of ice. Shake. Strain into a well chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an apple slice.

The basic recipe is uneventful. It gets the job done. There is indeed apple flavor and the punch of liquor in it, but no layering of flavor to make it interesting. Some adjust the ratios and add apple juice at this point, making this a trio drink.

Appletini – Trio

1 ounce Vodka
1 ounce Green Apple Liqueur
1 ounce Apple Juice

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled 1/3 full of ice. Shake. Strain into a well chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an apple slice.

This trio Appletini possibly has a bit of layering to it, but now it seems a wee bit watered down. While using fresh juice in fruit based cocktails is always a plus, it is doubtful most would have fresh apple juice in the refrigerator. Even so, apple juice is still thin and weak. Fresh squeezed will always be better in a cocktail, even if it is not the fresh squeezed juice you may expect.

The answer to the multilayered, abundantly flavored Appletini was created by Dale DeGroff for Natalie Cole and her manager for Rupert Murdoch’s seventieth birthday party. You can read a small quip about it in his book, The Craft of the Cocktail, and acquire an abundance of other essential cocktails you won’t believe you ever went without. Below is DeGroff’s version of the indispensable Appletini with fresh lemon juice.

Sour Apple Martini – Dale DeGroff from The Craft of the Cocktail

2 ounces Citrus Vodka
1/2 ounce Sour Apple Pucker
1/2 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce Fresh Lemon Juice
Thin Slice of Granny Smith Apple, for garnish

Place first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled 1/3 full of ice. Shake until chilled. Strain into a well chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the apple slice.

The Waterfront Ale House in New York City has a specialty Apple Martini using their own infused vodka with pear, apples, cloves and cinnamon. You will find the recipe for this Apple Martini in The Craft of the Cocktail as well. It is definitely a must see!

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