Lemon Drop Martini Recipe

By Timo Torner / Last updated on May 7, 2023

The Lemon Drop cocktail is a sour, lemon-flavored drink made with vodka citron, fresh lemon juice, and triple sec.
Lemon Drop Martini cocktail on plate with lemons in background

Often served in a sugar-rimmed Martini glass, the Lemon Drop is mostly perceived as a modern take on the classic Vodka Martini. -Hence, the name. Yet, when taking a closer look at the recipe, it has more similarities with other classic cocktails like the White Lady.

Quick Facts Lemon Drop Martini

  • Method: shaken
  • Flavor profile: slightly sour, slightly boozy
  • How to serve it: straight up
  • Best glassware: Martini glass
  • Alcohol content: ~ 20.5% ABV, 21.5 grams of alcohol per serving

Regardless of what you compare it to, the contemporary drink was a tremendous success in the recent past. 

It has reached enough popularity for talk show host, Oprah Winfrey, to serve it in one of her shows. Now, Oprah might or might not be an indicator of a good drink, this definitely shows how popular the recipe has become.

Lemon Drop Martini cocktail on plate with lemons in background

Lemon Drop Cocktail Recipe

A boozy and tart cocktail made of lemon vodka, triple sec, and fresh lemon juice.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: vodka
Servings: 1
Calories: 203kcal
Cost: $2.30


  • 1 Jigger
  • 1 Cocktail Shaker
  • 1 Hawthorne Strainer


  • 2 oz Vodka citron
  • 0.25 oz Cointreau
  • 0.75 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz Simple syrup


  • Sugar-rim a chilled Martini glass some minutes before preparing the drink. This way, the sugar can dry and build a crust before you pour the drink into the glass.
  • Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and shake until well-chilled.
    2 oz Vodka citron, 0.25 oz Cointreau, 0.75 oz Fresh lemon juice, 0.5 oz Simple syrup
  • Strain into the prepared Martini glass.


Serving: 3.75ozCalories: 203kcalCarbohydrates: 7.25gSodium: 2.75mgPotassium: 21.25mgSugar: 7.25gVitamin C: 10.25mgCalcium: 6.5mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Ingredients of the Lemon Drop Martini

The Lemon Drop Martini is a tangy blend made with three citric elements and a dash of sugar syrup to balance the acidity:

  • Vodka: To pronounce the citrus notes, Vodka Citron is a popular choice. You can get it from renowned brands like Absolut, Belvedere, Ciroc, etc. 
  • Triple Sec: a fragrant, high-proof liqueur with an intense orange flavor. As for many other Triple-Sec Cocktails, my go-to brand for the Lemon Drop Martini is Cointreau.
  • Lemon juice: always use fresh lemon juice for your cocktails. Store-bought citrus juice won't deliver on that zesty, natural acidity you need for a perfect drink.
  • Simple syrup: This will balance the sour components. You can get it in most supermarkets. Or save a few $$ and use homemade simple syrup.

How to make the best Lemon Drop

Here are a few pro tips and tricks to get the most out of your Lemon Drop Cocktail. If you follow our suggestions, your drink is sure to be a winner:

First, you should chill your glass in the freezer or the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes. This cocktail is served straight up - without ice- and you want it to keep a cool temperature for as long as possible.

This is also why you should serve it in a martini glass in the first place. You and your guests can hold the glass on the stem. Thus, don't warm up the contents while drinking.

Further, make sure to use fresh lemon juice. That's absolutely vital and non-negotiable if you want a great cocktail. 

Also, should you decide to sugar-rim your glass, do that a couple of minutes before mixing your Lemon Drop to give the sugar some time to dry. Consider only putting sugar on half the rim, so not everyone has to swallow sugar crystals if they don't want to.

Two Lemon Drop Cocktails on marble plate next to jigger


A very successful variation of this drink is the Lavender Lemon Drop Martini. It has a beautiful purple color and a floral taste. Other versions add fresh, muddled, crushed, puréed, or frozen berries to the base formula or berry-flavored liqueurs. Sometimes, these fruity versions sport a colorful and flavored sugar rim to improve presentation.

History of the Lemon Drop Cocktail

Norman Jay Hobday, a former Vietnam veteran, invented the recipe for the Lemon Drop Martini in the 70s in his bar in San Francisco.

Hobday started his new career as a bar owner in 1969 when he opened Henry Africa's Bar in SFC. His place was the first so-called fern bar, decorated with house plants (mostly fern) and fake Tiffany lamps. 

The bar became an instant hot spot, and the fern bar was quickly a household name in the region. It was there that Hobday invented the Lemon Drop cocktail. Like the fern bar concept, the cocktail spread across the region like wildfire.

Most likely, the cocktail got its name from lemon drop candy. Plus, the hype surrounding the tart drink led to a shot version. -Itself a frequent order during the 90s.

Recipes You Might Also Like

If you like creative approaches to the traditional concept of a Martini, how about:

All these twists of the Lemon Drop are commonly regarded as a type of Martini, even though that definition may be up for discussion since the only two commonalities are the vodka and the glass.

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