Lemon Drop Cocktail Recipe & Ingredients

When you have a sweet tooth, nothing hits that sweet spot like a lemon drop cocktail. Its sweet and sour profile will have you 'dropping' your guard.

Two sugar rimmed lemon drop cocktail in martini glass

When you have a sweet tooth, nothing hits that sweet spot like a lemon drop cocktail. Its sweet and sour profile will have you ‘dropping’ into your local bar again and again. You will ‘drop’ your guard when you try this one… I think those are all the drop puns I have.

But, as usual, what is a lemon drop, and what’s the story behind it? Let’s discuss.

What is a Lemon Drop?

A lemon drop cocktail is a vodka-based cocktail made with fresh lemon juice, triple sec, and simple syrup. It’s been called a “take on” the Vodka Martini. It is usually served chilled with ice and strained. It may also be served in a sugar-rimmed glass. The first sweet touch on the lips before the onslaught of vodka, lemon, and orange is the drink’s calling card.

Two sugar rimmed lemon drop cocktail in martini glass
Two sugar rimmed lemon drop cocktail in martini glass
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History of the Lemon Drop Cocktail

The Lemon Drop was born in San Francisco in the 1970s. A Vietnam vet-turned saloon owner, Norman Jay Hobday, is credited with launching the country’s first fern bar, a concept that blended house plants, Tiffany lamps, urbanites. Both the bar and the cocktail were a hit.

This boozy-tart-sweet mix of vodka, lemon, and sugar-dominated cocktail menus from North Beach to Bangkok for over two decades. In 2006, Oprah famously served one to Rachael Ray on her show, further cementing the drink’s cultural status.

What Glass is a Lemon Drop Served In?

The Lemmon Drop is typically served in a rimmed martini glass or a coupe glass. The Lemon Drop can also be poured as a shot, which is popular in student bars and nightclubs. If you don’t own the right glassware for this cocktail, consider some of the options below.

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What are the best spirits for a Lemon Drop?

We recommend sticking to the basics for this one. Some Smirnoff Vodka will do the trick. But, if you want to step it up a few notches, we recommend going with Grey Goose vodka.

Some establishments and home bartenders add citrus or berry vodka to Lemon Drops, while others muddle fresh fruit into the drink. But first, try the classic. It’s been around a long time for a reason.

Regarding other ingredients, always go for fresh lemon juice–always.

How to Make a Lemon Drop

Below are the ingredients and directions for a Lemon Drop. We hope you love this cocktail as much as we do.

Lemon Drop Cocktail

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Recipe by Julian Solorzano Cuisine: Classic CocktailDifficulty: Easy ????




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  • 2 ounces Absolut Citron Vodka

  • .75 ounces Lemon juice

  • 1 ounces Cointreau

  • Lemon wheel for garnish

  • Sugar for frosting the glass


  • Frost the rim of a cocktail glass with sugar. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Shake all the remaining ingredients (except the garnish) well with ice.
  • Strain into the chilled cocktail glass.
  • Float the lemon on top of the drink.

Recipe Video


So what do you think of the Lemon Drop cocktail? Love it? Hate it? What would you rate it? Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get great cocktail recipes just like this one, straight to your inbox. Until next time, stay safe, get hammered. 

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Written by Chris Harris, Staff Writer

Howdy. I’m Chris Harris. One of the writers here at Cocktail Hammer. I have a passion for all things food, wine, and mixology. When I’m not I’m behind the bar or writing for this awesome blog, you can find me riding my bike all across New York City.

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Edited by Nick Eggert, Staff Editor

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