Lemon Drop Martini cocktail on plate with lemons in background

Lemon Drop Martini

By Timo Torner / Last updated on November 26, 2022 

First published on November 20, 2021 

The Lemon Drop cocktail is a sour, lemon-flavored drink made with Vodka citron, fresh lemon juice, and Triple Sec.

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 drink is often called Lemon Drop Martini - the IBA also lists it under that name.

When taking a closer look at the recipe, it has more similarities with other classic cocktails like the White Lady or the Crusta cocktail. Yet, 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. While Oprah might or might not be an indicator of a good drink, this definitely shows how popular the recipe has become.

Jump to Recipe | Ingredients | How to make | Variations | History

Despite being relatively new, the drink already has reached enough popularity for talk show host, Oprah Winfrey, to serve it in one of her shows. 

While Oprah might or might not be an indicator of a good drink, this definitely shows how popular the recipe has become.

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 it

It can come with or without a sugar rim on the glass. But mostly, it's rimmed:

  • Step 1: Sugar-rim a chilled Martini glass some minutes before preparing the drink. It should build a crust before you pour and serve the drink. -> Moisten the rim of your glass with a lemon wedge and drip it in caster sugar.
  • Step 2: Wait a few minutes before you add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and shake until the content is well-chilled.
  • Step 3: Strain the cocktail into the prepared Martini glass and garnish it with a lemon peel.
Two Lemon Drop Cocktails on marble plate next to jigger

Variations

The most successful variations of the drink add fresh, muddled, crushed, puréed, or frozen blueberry or raspberry to the base formula or flavored liqueurs of said berries. Sometimes, these fruity versions sport a colorful and flavored sugar rim to improve presentation. But there are also floral variations like this Lavender Lemon Drop Martini.

Like the original, these twists usually are regarded as a type of Martini. But that definition is definitely up for discussion since the only two commonalities are the Vodka and the glass.

History of the Lemon Drop cocktail

Norman Jay Hobday, a former Vietnam veteran, started his new career as a bar owner in 1969 when he opened Henry Africa's Bar in San Francisco. 

His place was the country's first 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 in the mid-70s. Like the fern bar concept, the cocktail spread across the region like wildfire.

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

Lemon Drop Martini cocktail on plate with lemons in background

Lemon Drop

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  • 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 3.75oz | Calories: 203kcal | Carbohydrates: 15.25g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 2.75mg | Potassium: 65.25mg | Sugar: 14.38g | Vitamin C: 10.25mg | Calcium: 18.5mg | Iron: 0.1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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