Lemon Drop Martini

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. What’s in it? Well, the lemon drop is a classic alcoholic drink that makes the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails. The official definition of how to make it is with citron vodka, triple sec, and lemon juice. But there endless variations: here’s what we put in our lemon drop martini:

Though citron vodka is traditional in a lemon drop martini, standard vodka is often used. We went with regular vodka to keep it simple. We also decided to use Cointreau instead of triple sec, because the flavor is much tastier (more on that below). And we’ve balanced it out with a little syrup (more on that below too!).

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 are lots of great cocktails 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 Champagne cocktail is seriously festive, with that beautifully sparkly bubble fountain! It works well for so many occasions. It’s great as a:

Lemon drop martini

BEST Lemon Drop Martini

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (7 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • 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.



  • 3 tablespoons vodka
  • 1 tablespoon Cointreau
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus lemon twist garnish
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or simple syrup
  • Granulated sugar, for the rim
  • 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 granulated 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 cocktail 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.
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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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