Apples went macro in adult beverages with the arrival of the legendary folk hero Johnny Appleseed (born John Chapman, in 1774). He spread apple seeds over huge swaths of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and a sliver of West Virginia. Despite what you may have read in elementary school, Appleseed wasn’t populating the country with fruit for eating—his apples were also “spitters,” ideal for producing cider.
Apple-based tipples, like all spirits, got sidetracked by Prohibition, but that was a mere hiccup, and the fruit made its presence even more widely known in drinking culture’s modern era. In addition to hard cider and applejack, a dizzying array of apple brandies, apple liqueurs, and apple-infused whiskies, vodkas, and gins have emerged. And with the Jack Rose (applejack, fresh lemon juice, grenadine) leading the way, modern-day mixology is studded with apples across an endless array of recipes, both signature and classic. The Apple Martini (vodka and either apple juice, apple brandy, or apple cider), was invented in 1994 at an LA joint called Lola’s, and originally titled the Adam’s Apple Martini. That’s a fitting nod to the apple’s fundamental and enduring role at the heart of cocktail culture.