Rumored to be conceived at Lola’s in West Hollywood, the bright green Sour Apple Martini with the signature sliver of granny smith apple garnish became a staple at bars and restaurants through the ‘90s.
Embracing a generation tired of the classic martinis their parents drank but used to food gimmicks like PopRocks and Crystal Pepsi, the Apple-tini waltzed right into the club scene where drinks featuring flavors like blue raspberry, watermelon pucker, and fruit punch were all the rage.
Josh Goldman (Belcampo Meat Co. & Soigne Group) came up bartending in the era of Apple-tinis, an era he refers to as the “Cocktail Dark Ages.”
He admits with amusement, “I probably made more Cosmos and Apple-tinis than any craft bartender behind the stick in Los Angeles.”
At Belcampo Meat Co. in Santa Monica, he has crafted his cocktail menu to be a tongue-in-cheek homage to Steak House classics, which naturally would include an Apple-tini. While conceding that this drink is a “gateway drug” for “ladies who really dig the buttery martinis,” he makes it clear that “if you’re going to order an Apple Martini, I’m going to make you the best possible apple martini I can possibly make for you.”
Back in the day, the Apple Martini consisted of vodka, DeKuyper Pucker Sour Apple Schnapps Imitation Liqueur and artificially flavored shelf stable Sour Mix, both staples at bars frequented by the ladies of Sex in the City. Goldman challenged himself to re-engineer the original, replacing those artificial ingredients with all-natural ingredients made in-house at Belcampo.
Fresh Granny Smith apples are juiced to make the “Apple Pucker” as well as fresh lemons and limes to make the base for the “Sour Mix.” In addition Goldman strove to maintain the visual authenticity of the elevated reproduction using natural ingredients as well, by adding liquid chlorophyll to achieve the bright green of the original and garnishing the drink with an elegant sliver of “apple glass” (a translucent slice of dehydrated apple).
Granted, this isn’t a recipe to whip up quickly one afternoon. It takes prep and measuring; it’s on the verge of being molecular. But simply seeing the process Goldman goes through to create something of quality is a revelation, equal parts cocktail lesson and paean to creativity.
Goldman thinks drinks deserve second chances.
“I’ve had a lot of drinks that are bad, but I don’t necessarily think that’s always the drink’s fault.”
Ideally he hopes his riff on the Apple-tini will give his patrons something familiar so that they “trust us a little bit so I can turn you on to other cocktails and spirits.”
So cheers to the Apple-tini, may it be your gateway to a new Golden Age of Cocktails.
by Josh Goldman of Soigné Group for Belcampo Meat Co. in Santa Monica
- 1 1/2 oz. Absolut Elyx
- 1 1/2 oz. Apple Pucker*
- 3/4 oz. Sweet & Sour Mix*
Preparation: Shake long and hard in tin with ice, double strain into coupe glass.
*recipe for Apple Pucker and Sweet & Sour Mix below
Yield: 1 Liter
- 500 ml Acidulated Granny Smith Apple Juice
- 250 g White Sugar
- 175 ml Apfel Liqueur
- 100 ml Young Apple Brandy
- 20g Malic Acid
- Liquid Chlorophyll, to approximate green apple-tini color
Preparation: Add all liquid ingredients together in large container. Create funnel with immersion blender or whisk and add malic acid in. Mix until incorporated. Repeat with drops of liquid chlorophyll. Refrigerate.
Yield: About 500ml depending on apples
- 5-6 Granny Smith Apples
- 1 Gallon of Water
- Ascorbic Acid (3g for Water Bath + 5% by Weight of Apple Juice)
Preparation: One gallon acidulated ice water (make a funnel in the water with an immersion blender or whisk add 3g ascorbic acid to water and incorporate. Add a large scoop of ice), cut 5-6 granny smith apples into eights, remove seeds and stems. Immediately submerge in acidulated ice bath after each section of the apple is sliced. Pull directly from ice bath and run through masticating juicer or blend and strain through cheese cloth. Strain apple juice with fine sieve, add 5% ascorbic acid to strained apple juice. Store in refrigerator until needed.
Sweet & Sour Mix
- 35 g Lemon Zest
- 35 g Lime Zest
- 270 g White Baker’s Sugar
- 175 ml Fresh Lemon Juice
- 175 ml Fresh Lime Juice
- 1 1/2 L Filtered Water
- 2 tsp. Ascorbic Acid
Preparation: Combine zest and superfine sugar in a bowl and let sit over night. Add zest/sugar mixture, ascorbic acid to lemon juice and mix with immersion blender or whisk. Add water and mix with immersion blender or whisk. Allow to sit for 20 minutes. Fine strain through a chinois. Store in refrigerator.