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Here’s the best lemon drop martini you’ll have! It’s zesty and refreshing, sweet tart with a crunchy sugar rim.

Lemon drop martini

Want a lemon drop martini? 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. Whatever the occasion: this drink delivers! When we first tried it, we were surprised by its cool, clean flavor and the sophisticated vibe. It’s now solidly a part of our cocktail repertoire.

Ingredients in a lemon drop martini

A Lemon Drop Martini is a sweet and sour version of a vodka martini. It’s similarities with the classic martini are in name only! 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:

  • 1 ½ oz citron vodka or regular vodka
  • ½ oz Cointreau or triple sec
  • ½ oz lemon juice
  • ½ oz simple syrup

For our spin on the Lemon Drop Martini, we use standard vodka to keep it simple. In our taste tests, citron vodka only adds a subtle citrus hint to the finish. But if you have citron vodka, by all means use it here! We also use Cointreau instead of triple sec as the orange liqueur, and add simple syrup to balance the flavors. This makes the drink very close to a Vodka Sidecar, which uses similar ingredients.

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 simple 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 or lemon wheel.

How to make a lemon twist

The lemon twist makes a sophisticated Lemon Drop Martini! But how to make it? Here’s our method for making to make a lemon twist garnish using no special tools. Head to How to Make a Lemon Twist (with a Knife!).

Don’t want to try the twist? Slice a lemon wheel, then cut a notch in it and add it to the rim of the glass.

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.
Lemon drop martini

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. Triple Sec has a more straightforward, intense 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!)

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:

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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! It’s zesty and refreshing, sweet tart with a crunchy sugar rim.


  • 1 ½ ounces* citron vodka or vodka
  • ½ ounce Cointreau or triple sec
  • ½ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • Superfine sugar, for the rim (or substitute granulated)
  • For the garnish: Lemon twist or lemon wheel


  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.


*To convert to tablespoons, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons

**To achieve a yellow color for this drink, use maple syrup as the sweetener or use citron vodka. With simple syrup and standard vodka, the drink is clear in color. 

  • 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.

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  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.