Here’s the best lemon drop martini you’ll have, made simply with vodka, Cointreau and lemon! It’s festive and refreshing, with a lemon twist and sugar rim.

Lemon drop martini

Want a lemon drop martini? Yes, please! Really, who could turn down this one? This zingy martini is perfectly balanced and refreshingly tart, served with a sugar rim and a lemon twist. It looks so festive that it’s great for celebrations of all kinds: be it a classy dinner party or New Year’s. Whatever the occasion: this martini delivers! When Alex first made it for me, I was surprised by the cool, clean flavor and the sophisticated vibe. It’s now solidly a part of our cocktail repertoire.

What’s in a lemon drop martini?

A Lemon Drop Martini is a sweet and sour version of a vodka martini. It’s similarities to the classic martini end with the name! The Lemon Drop is a classic alcoholic drink that makes the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails. That means it has an official definition of how to make it:

  • Citron vodka or standard vodka
  • Cointreau or triple sec
  • Lemon juice
  • Simple syrup or maple syrup

Citron vodka is traditional in a lemon drop martini. If you have it, by all means: use it here! Standard vodka is often used in a lemon drop martini, so we went that route to keep it simple. We also used Cointreau instead of triple sec as the orange liqueur (more on that below). This makes the drink very similar to the Vodka Sidecar, which is essentially the lemon drop with standard vodka!

Lemon drop martini

How to make a lemon drop martini (3 basic steps!)

If you’re ready to get drinking, here are the basic steps to the lemon drop martini:

  1. Rim the glass with sugar. A classic lemon drop is served in a martini glass with sugar on the rim. This helps to balance out the tart flavor of the cocktail.
  2. Shake in a cocktail shaker. Take the vodka, Cointreau, lemon juice and syrup, and shake it together in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  3. Strain into a glass and add garnish. Strain the drink into the martini glass and add a lemon twist. How to do it…?

Wondering how to make a lemon twist?

The lemon twist is what makes the lemon drop martini! But how to make it? I’m terrible at cute little garnishes, but that’s where Alex comes in! He figured out a way to make a lemon twist garnish using no special tools. Head to How to Make a Lemon Twist (with a Knife!).

How to make a lemon twist

How to make a sugar rim

Lastly, let’s talk about that sugar rim! The granulated sugar rim on the martini glass makes for a festive look: and it helps to balance out some of that tart flavor! Here are our tips to making the perfect rim:

  1. Spread the sugar on a plate in an even layer.
  2. Take a lemon wedge and cut a notch in the middle: then slide it around the rim of the glass. This moistens the rim without having to use your fingers!
  3. Tilt the glass into the sugar so that the sugar sticks to the outside edge.
  4. Shake off any loose sugar into the sink.
sugar rim

Simple syrup vs maple syrup

Want a naturally sweet lemon drop martini? Alex and I love using pure maple syrup to sweeten our cocktails. Not only does it provide a gentle sweetness, it gives a nuanced undertone (and it doesn’t taste like maple: promise!). Also, we always have maple syrup in the refrigerator! You can use maple syrup for a naturally sweet drink. Or if you prefer, head to How to Make Simple Syrup to make simple syrup in 5 minutes!

Cointreau vs triple sec

The very best lemon drop martini recipe has Cointreau, not triple sec. Cointreau has a orange perfume flavor that’s well balanced between bitter and sweet, but Triple Sec can have a more harsh flavor. If you’re not sure whether you want to buy a bottle, there’s a long list of great Cointreau drinks that use it: like the Classic Margarita and the Cosmopolitan.

Fun fact: “triple sec” means triple distilled: it’s actually not a brand name! Cointreau is a brand made by Remy Martin, but it’s technically also a triple sec because it’s triple distilled. (How’s that for confusing!)

Lemon drop martini

When to serve a lemon drop martini

The lemon drop martini cocktail is tart and tangy, with a festive vibe. It works well for so many occasions. It’s great as a:

More martini recipes!

There are lots of spins on the martini! Here are a few more:

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Lemon drop martini

BEST Lemon Drop Martini

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


Here’s the best lemon drop martini you’ll have, made simply with vodka, Cointreau and lemon! It’s festive and refreshing, with a lemon twist and sugar rim.


  • 1 ½ ounces (3 tablespoons) citron vodka or vodka
  • ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) Cointreau
  • ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or simple syrup
  • Superfine sugar, for the rim (or substitute granulated)
  • For the garnish: Lemon twist


  1. Cut a notch in a lemon wedge, then run the lemon around the rim of a martini glass. Dip the edge of the rim into a plate of superfine sugar.
  2. Make the lemon twist garnish.
  3. Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, fill it with ice, and shake until cold.
  4. Strain the liquid into the glass with the sugared rim. Garnish with the lemon twist.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

Keywords: Lemon Drop Martini

More classic cocktails

Here are a few more of our best cocktail recipes you might enjoy:

  • Classic Margarita The only margarita recipe you need! Here’s how to make the very best margarita with 3 simple ingredients: lime, Cointreau and tequila—and no added sugar.
  • Classic Mojito It’s perfectly balanced with lime, rum and fresh mint! This iconic Cuban cocktail is refreshing and just sweet enough.
  • Salty Dog Here’s a refreshing citrus cocktail that pairs grapefruit juice, gin, and a salted rim. (The classic version has no salt and is called…a Greyhound!)
  • Tom Collins This tall highball drink is a gin sour, a sweet and sour classic cocktail made with gin. It’s refreshing, bubbly, and nostalgic.

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. The best lemon drop recipe contains a 1:1:2:3 mixture:

    1 oz simple syrup
    1 oz Cointreau
    2 oz fresh lemon juice
    3 oz quality vodka

    Want the perfect margarita? Substitute lime juice for lemon and a quality blanco tequila for the vodka.

    Easy peasy, and always a hit.

    1. Awesome man. I tried this before the original recipe on the page and I’ve added this to my drink journal. Possibly the best cocktail I’ve ever had.

  2. Thank you for this recipe! Quick and easy for a last-minute cocktail and since we usually have organic real maple syrup on hand, this was a hit!

  3. Sorry I did not try this recipe – but for years that is very much like how I made it. And I always viewed the LDrop and Cosmo as “Drinks made in martini common Glass”.
    The Lemon Drop is a ladies go to – but many others enjoy it as well. It is what lemonade wants to be when it turns 21.
    My current recipe varies in one major way – Limoncello. There are many version with Limoncello out there – try them and you won’t make a Lemon Drop without it again.

    Oh and I agree with KB- real maple syrup. Always a plus to have on hand. Makes a first-rate Manhattan. YTF it is mentioned here ? No idea.