By Carey Jones and John D. McCarthy
Updated September 24, 2015
Credit: © Carey Jones

Back in the day, there was an oh-so-unfortunate trend of calling virtually every cocktail a martini—or, even worse, simply a ‘tini. Martini? Yep, that's a cocktail. But Appletinis and saketinis? There is not a wimpier name for a drink on the planet. And too many of these cocktails were heavy on the flavored vodkas and gross, sugary fruit liqueurs. We're happy to relegate them to the dustbins of history.

Well, most of them. If you look at some of these cocktails, unfortunate names aside, there's no reason they have to be bad. What's so wrong about pairing sake with vodka? Here, we've taken three ‘tinis (shudder) and given them the modern cocktail treatment.

Easy: Saketini

Saketinis rank up there with Cosmos in the world of "trendy" early-2000s drinks, often poorly made and served in obscenely large martini glasses. It's a shame, because vodka and sake together, properly chilled and garnished, work quite well.

Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine 1 1/2 ounces sake and 1 1/2 ounces vodka. Stir until well-chilled and Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a big twist of lemon peel—twisting over the surface of the drink to spray its citrus oils all over—and a slice of cucumber.

Intermediate: Appletini

Apple cocktails of yore tended to rely on bright green liqueurs, so sweet and sticky, you could've used them on Sno Cones. You know what's a much better boozy apple vehicle? Apple brandy, like French Calvados or American applejack. And you know what has the best apple flavor? Apples. Put all that together, add vodka as a concession to the -tini, and you've got a vibrant apple cocktail that's juicy and refreshing enough for warm weather, but comforting enough for fall.

Instructions: In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle 1/4 green apple, add 1 ounce vodka, 1/2 ounce Calvados or applejack, 3/4 ounces Martinelli's apple juice, 1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 1/2 an ounce of simple syrup. Shake that all up and double-strain into a couple. Garnish with three slices of green apple.

Advanced: Espresso Martini

For those who like a little upper with their booze, the espresso martini is a bit classier than a Red Bull vodka. And unsurprisingly, great espresso results in a great espresso martini. Pick up a few shots from your favorite barista, and save them for this awesome evening pick-me-up. (Because we're in a throwback mood, there's a little bit of Kahlua in there, too.)

Instructions: In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, stir together 1 1/2 ounces of vodka and 1/2 ounce Kahlua with ice, and strain into a coupe. In the same cocktail shaker, shake up 1 big shot of espresso with fresh ice—it should get nice and foamy. Carefully strain on top of the vodka-Kahlua martini; if you just touch the surface of the liquid with a barspoon, and carefully pour over the barspoon, that'll work well. Garnish with three coffee beans.