This Lemon Drop recipe is a vodka cocktail with a pop of sweet tart flavor! Named after lemon drop candy, it’s got a crunchy sugar rim.

Lemon Drop

Love lemon candy or lemon pie? Then the Lemon Drop is your cocktail soulmate! It might look sugary, but its sweet tart flavor is perfectly balanced. There’s just the right zip from the lemon, complimented by a subtle zing from orange liqueur. Take a sip and you’ll raise your eyebrows in appreciation (at least, we did). A crunchy sugar rim adds just the right finishing touch. Here’s how to make this famous vodka cocktail!

What is a Lemon Drop?

The Lemon Drop is a vodka cocktail made with vodka, lemon juice, orange liqueur and simple syrup. Named after the candy of the same name, it was invented in the 1970’s at Henry Africa’s, a singles bar in San Francisco. The inventor of the drink is unknown, but some people credit it to the founder of the bar, Norman Jay Hobday. It’s also known as a Lemon Drop Martini.

The Lemon Drop took off, and became an iconic drink known around the world. Oprah even dubbed it a favorite after making it with Rachael Ray on her show in 2006.

Ingredients in a lemon drop recipe

What’s in a Lemon Drop recipe? This drink follows the formula of a classic sour cocktail: liquor, citrus, and orange liqueur. Several classic drinks have this same makeup, from the Margarita to the Sidecar (and even the Cosmo). Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

Lemon Drop

How to make a Lemon Drop: basic steps!

This drink is essentially a lemon-flavored vodka martini, and it follows the typical formula of many cocktails: shake and strain! The only tricky parts here? A classic Lemon Drop recipe has a sugar rim and a lemon twist. Here’s how to make a Lemon Drop:

  1. Make the sugar rim: 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: Cut the lemon width-wise into a circle. Run a paring knife around the edge to remove the peel, cutting away as much of the pith as possible. (You can remove the fruit and set aside.) Cut the remaining peel circle so that it becomes a long strip. Twist it, holding it for several seconds until the shape is kept. To see photos, go to How to Make a Lemon Twist!
  3. Shake and strain: Add the vodka, lemon juice, Cointreau, and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake until cold, then strain into the glass.
How to make a lemon twist

Orange liqueur: Cointreau vs Triple Sec

The best part of this Lemon Drop recipe? The orange liqueur! It adds a bright sweetness, and the subtle citrus nuance compliments the lemon perfectly. Don’t think about substituting it! We like to use Cointreau as our orange liqueur of choice, but Triple Sec works too. Here’s what to know about Cointreau vs Triple Sec:

  • Cointreau is a premium orange liqueur with a developed-orange perfume flavor. It has a sophisticated flavor with notes of oak and vanilla. It’s our go-to orange liqueur, especially in a Margarita.
  • Triple Sec is slightly less refined in flavor than Cointreau, and it’s less expensive. It has a very straightforward orange essence, almost like orange vodka. Either one works here!
Lemon Drop

More lemon cocktails

Love the citrusy zing of lemon in your cocktails? Here are more must-try lemon cocktails you’ll love:

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Lemon drop

Lemon Drop


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

Description

This Lemon Drop recipe is a vodka cocktail with a pop of sweet tart flavor! Named after lemon drop candy, it’s got a crunchy sugar rim.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 ½ ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ½ ounce Cointreau or Triple Sec
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • Superfine sugar, for the rim (or substitute granulated)
  • For the garnish: lemon twist

Instructions

  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.
  3. Place the vodka, Cointreau, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker, fill it with ice, and shake until cold.
  4. Strain the drink into the glass with the sugared rim. Garnish with the lemon twist.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

Keywords: Lemon drop, lemon drop recipe, lemon drop ingredients, what is a lemon drop, how to make a lemon drop

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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