Lemon Drop Martini

Meet the Lemon Drop Martini, a classy glass of liquid sunshine! This bright and zesty cocktail is easy to make, delicious and perfect for every occasion.

A lemon martini in a glass with a slice of lemon.

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Easy Lemon Drop Martini Recipe

Ready for a glass of sunshine? The Lemon Drop Martini is the sweet-and-sour classic cocktail you’ve been looking for.

With a combination of freshly squeezed lemon juice, vodka, triple sec, simple syrup and a rim of homemade lemon sugar, the resulting drink is a balanced and refreshing cocktail.

Perfect for any occasion, from entertaining guests to unwinding after a long day, this drink provides a delightful blend of flavors with a touch of elegance.

More lemon cocktail recipes: Limoncello SpritzLynchburg LemonadeVodka LemonadeLemon Champagne Punch • Limoncello LemonadeFrozen Lemon Daiquiri

Why you’ll love this recipe

Whether you’ve never tried the Lemon Drop Martini before or it’s one of your go-to drink orders, you’re going to love this cocktail! Here’s why:

  • Its refreshing citrus flavor, balanced sweetness and tangy lemon kick make it so satisfying and refreshing.
  • Served in a sugar-rimmed martini glass with a lemon twist, this elegant cocktail is sophisticated yet simple to make.
  • Lemon lovers will love this cocktail with a vibrant citrus burst.
A lemon martini in a glass with a slice of lemon.

What is a Lemon Drop Martini?

The Lemon Drop Martini is a classic sweet martini drink made with fresh lemon juice, vodka, simple syrup and orange liqueur. It is usually served in a martini glass that’s been rimmed in lemon sugar and garnished with a twist of lemon peel.

Sweet martinis like the lemon drop aren’t really based on the classic martini, which is more of a savory drink. They’re a distant cousin — dessert martinis are usually made with vodka yet served in a martini glass.

According to Chilled Magazine, this adult version of the lemon drop candy was invented at San Francisco’s Henry Africa bar in the 1970s.

With its bright, lemon flavor, the drink is beloved all over the world and often appears in movies. In 2006, chef Rachael Ray made it for Oprah Winfrey as a guest on her show and Oprah declared it her favorite cocktail.

Lemon margaritas on a marble table.

Tools & glassware

If you want to mix up a lemon drop martini at home, you will need a basic bar tool set that includes these items:

If you want to make your own lemon sugar for the rim, you will also need a baking sheet, some parchment paper and a microplane zester.

Lemon drop martinis are usually served in martini glasses (or their stemless counterpart), but you can explore serving them in other types of glassware such as coupe glasses.

A glass jar with lemons and a spoon next to it.

Ingredients

So what is in a lemon drop martini? Here’s what you’ll need:

  • fresh lemon juice: Freshly-squeezed juice has a less sour lemon taste than the store-bought concentrate, so use it if you can or be prepared to adjust the sweetness slightly. Make sure you grab some extra lemons for the garnish.
  • vodka: Vodka provides a nice blank slate in this cocktail that lets the citrus and sweetness shine. You can also substitute a flavored vodka or use gin if you prefer.
  • orange liqueur: This clear orange liqueur adds a hint of extra citrus flavor and a little more sweetness. You can use triple sec or a top-shelf brand like Cointreau — just make sure it’s clear or it will affect the color of the cocktail.
  • simple syrup: This is a sugary sweetener made with equal parts water and sugar. regular sugar syrup will work best for the lemon drop martini, but you can also experiment with flavored syrups. Store extra in a mason jar in the refrigerator and use within one month.

Tip: Room temperature citrus is easier to juice than cold, refrigerated fruit. Set your citrus fruits out on the counter for a couple hours to warm up before juicing them.

Garnishes

The lemon drop martini has two main garnishes: the lemon twist and a sugar rim. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • lemon wedge: You’ll need a lemon wedge to moisten the rim of the martini glass so the sugar rim will stick to it. You can also dip the rim of the glass in simple syrup or lemon juice, but be careful to shake off any excess so you don’t have sticky drips on the outside of the glass.
  • rim of lemon sugar: You may certainly use plain sugar on the rim, but lemon sugar adds an extra bite of citrus zest. You can make it with regular granulated sugar and lemon zest.
  • lemon twist: This classy garnish is easy to make with a slice of fresh lemon, twisted around your finger. Here’s my guide to making the ultimate lemon twist garnish with complete instructions.

You could also garnish lemon drop cocktails with dehydrated lemon slices or candied lemon slices.

Variations and substitutions

The Lemon Drop is a great cocktail to experiment with and change up the flavors by swapping out ingredients. Here is some inspiration:

Lemon Drop Mocktail: Instead of vodka, use a zero-proof spirit like Seedlip Grove 42.

Blueberry Lemon Drop Martini: Use blueberry simple syrup instead of plain for a delicious berry flavor.

Strawberry Lemon Drop Martini: Homemade strawberry simple syrup will give this cocktail more of a strawberry lemonade flavor.

A person pouring lemon juice into a stainless steel shaker.
A person pouring lemon juice into a metal cup.
A person pouring lemon juice into a martini glass.
A person slicing a lemon into a martini glass.

How to make a Lemon Drop Martini

Ready to make the classic and elegant Lemon Drop Martini? Let’s get started!

  1. Place lemon sugar on a plate. Rub a lemon wedge around the edge of a chilled martini glass. Holding the glass upside-down, roll the edge in the lemon sugar to coat the rim.
  2. To a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add lemon juice, vodka, triple sec and simple syrup. Shake well. Strain into the prepared glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
A person putting a lemon peel on their finger.

Tips & tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for making this recipe:

  • Chill martini glasses in the freezer for an hour beforehand for an extra refreshing experience.
  • Shake the cocktail vigorously with ice to properly chill and dilute the drink.
  • Rim the glass with lemon sugar, instead of plain sugar, for a sweet and tangy addition.
  • Use freshly squeezed lemon juice for the best flavor.
A glass of lemonade with a slice of lemon next to it.

What to serve with a Lemon Drop Martini

Lemon drops are a great bar drink, so enjoy them with your favorite bar snacks, like chicken wings or mozzarella sticks.

You could also enjoy them with anything lemon-y, like lemon drop cookies (with a vodka glaze!) or a platter of lemon bars.

FAQ

What is a substitute for triple sec in a lemon drop martini?

Triple sec is an orange liqueur, so you can substitute another orange liqueur. Cointreau is clear like triple sec, so it’s the best substitute, but you could also use another orange liqueur like Grand Marnier, but it will affect the light lemony color.

What is a lemon drop martini made of?

The lemon drop martini is a sweet drink made with fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, vodka and triple sec. It usually has a sugar rim and a lemon twist garnish.

More sweet martini recipes

— Did you make this recipe? —

Please leave a ★★★★★ review or comment below.

A lemon martini in a glass with a slice of lemon.

Lemon Drop Martini

Yield: 1 drink
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
This bright and zesty Lemon Drop Martini is perfect for any occasion.
5 from 1 vote
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ingredients

Lemon Sugar

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons lemon zest from 1-2 lemons

Lemon Drop Martini

  • 1 ounce lemon juice freshly-squeezed
  • 1 ½ ounce vodka
  • ½ ounce triple sec
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 lemon wedge for the rim
  • 1 teaspoon lemon sugar for the rim
  • 1 lemon twist for garnish

instructions

Lemon Sugar

  • Preheat oven to 150°F (65.5°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • To make lemon sugar, combine sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl. Use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar, releasing the oils.
  • Pour the lemon sugar mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool completely. Store in a food-safe, airtight container.

Lemon Drop Martini

  • Place lemon sugar on a plate. Rub a lemon wedge around the edge of the glass. Roll the rim of a chilled martini glass in the lemon sugar to coat the rim.
  • To a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add lemon juice, vodka, triple sec and simple syrup. Shake well. Strain into the prepared glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

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nutrition information

Yield: 1 drink

amount per serving:

Serving: 3ounces Calories: 224kcal Carbohydrates: 27g Protein: 0.1g Fat: 0.1g Saturated Fat: 0.03g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.02g Sodium: 18mg Potassium: 52mg Fiber: 0.1g Sugar: 26g Vitamin A: 2IU Vitamin C: 11mg Calcium: 6mg Iron: 1mg
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