Lemon Drop
IBA official cocktail
Lemon drop
TypeMixed drink
Base spirit
ServedStraight up: chilled, without ice
Standard garnishsugar around rim
Standard drinkware
Cocktail glass
IBA specified
  • 30 ml vodka citron
  • 20 ml triple sec
  • 15 ml fresh lemon juice
PreparationPour all ingredients into cocktail shaker, shake well with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with sugar rim around the glass.
Commonly servedAll Day
Lemon Drop recipe at International Bartenders Association

A lemon drop is a vodka-based cocktail that has a lemony, sweet and sour flavor, prepared using vodka, triple sec, and fresh lemon juice.[1] It has been described as a variant of, or as "a take on", the vodka martini, but is in fact closer to a white lady variant.[2] It is typically prepared and served straight up – chilled with ice and strained.

The drink was invented sometime in the 1970s by Norman Jay Hobday, the founder and proprietor of Henry Africa's bar in San Francisco, California. Variations of the drink exist, such as blueberry and raspberry lemon drops, and some recipes that call for simple syrup. It is served at some bars and restaurants in the United States, and in such establishments in other areas of the world.[2]


A Lemon Drop served with a lemon wheel
A lemon drop served with a lemon wheel

A lemon drop is a cocktail with a lemony, sweet and sour flavor,[3][4] whereby the sweet and sour ingredients serve to contrast and balance one another.[5][6] It is a vodka-based cocktail that is prepared with the addition of lemon juice and triple sec.[1] Plain or citrus-flavored vodka may be used in its preparation, such as citron vodka.[3][2][7] Lemon-flavored vodka is also sometimes used.[6][8] Lemon juice that has been freshly squeezed may be used,[7][9] which can produce a superior drink compared to using commercially prepared lemon juice.[4] Some versions are prepared using the juice from Meyer lemons.[10][11][12]

Cointreau-brand triple sec is used in some versions, and it may be prepared using a simple syrup that has been infused with lemon juice.[3][9][12] Some versions are prepared using sour mix, a cocktail mixer.[3] A garnish of a sliced lemon wheel, wedge, zest, rind or a lemon twist is sometimes used.[4][2][7][13][9] Additional ingredients may also be used in the drink's preparation, such as ginger syrup and lavender extract.[14]

A lemon drop is typically prepared straight up, meaning that it is shaken or stirred with ice, strained, and served in a stemmed glass, such as a martini glass.[7][13][15] The glass may be prepared with a sugared rim, performed by dipping the rim of the glass in water or lemon juice and then dipping it into a rimmer (a shallow tray used in bartending), filled with sugar.[4] Superfine sugar, also called bar sugar or caster sugar may be used.[16][17][18]


The lemon drop was invented sometime in the 1970s by Norman Jay Hobday, the founder and proprietor of Henry Africa's, a fern bar in the Russian Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, California that opened in 1969.[19][20][21][22][23] It was originally served in a cocktail glass.[15][21][24][25] The Lemon Drop was most likely named after lemon drop candy.[5][24] After its invention, the drink swiftly spread to many San Francisco saloons.[21] In the early 1990s, it was often prepared as a shooter or served in a shot glass.[4][5][26] The shooter's recipe differed from the cocktail as it contained only one ingredient and a garnish. The lemon drop shot is made from chilled citrus vodka with a sugar covered lemon garnish. The shooter overtook the cocktail quickly and the martini faded from existence until the early 21st century when it was reinvented at the Melting Pot in Bethlehem, PA by mixologists Brian DiBonaventure and Leigha McGlinch. Their recipe, which is now the standard, consisted of citrus vodka, triple sec, simple syrup, limoncello, muddled lemons shaken vigorously and served in a sugar rimmed martini glass. A sugar coated lemon was used as the garnish. Go into any establishment and this will be the recipe they base their lemon drop martinis from.


Variations of the drink include lemon drops prepared with blueberries and raspberries, which may use vodkas or other liquors flavored with these respective berries.[4][27][28] These drinks may also be served or garnished with these berries,[4] or with lemon.[29] A blueberry lemon drop may be prepared with muddled blueberries,[30] and a raspberry lemon drop may be prepared with puréed or crushed raspberries.[27][31] Another popular variation uses limoncello as the base spirit.[32]

The glass may have a sugared rim, and colored sugar may be used, prepared by adding food coloring to the sugar.[33]

The "lemon drop shot" is a popular variant made with 2 parts vodka, 1 part lemon juice, 1/2 ounce of simple syrup, and served in a shot glass garnished with a sugar coated rim and lemon slice.

In popular culture

In 2006, preparation of the lemon drop was presented on The Oprah Winfrey Show, prepared by Oprah Winfrey and Rachael Ray.[4][34] The drink's popularity increased during this time.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Lemon Drop Martini - iba-world.com". Retrieved February 25, 2024.
  2. ^ a b c d Marszalek, Keith I. (March 24, 2008). "New Orleans' best cocktails: The Lemon Drop cocktail". The Times-Picayune. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d Saria, Lauren (September 6, 2013). "How to Make the Perfect Lemon Drop Cocktail". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Charming, C.; Bourgoin, S. (2009). Knack Bartending Basics. Knack: Make It Easy. Globe Pequot Press. pp. 72–73. ISBN 978-1-59921-772-7.
  5. ^ a b c Chirico, R. (2015). Field Guide to Cocktails. Quirk Books. p. 154. ISBN 978-1-59474-841-7. (More book content) ((cite book)): External link in |postscript= (help)CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  6. ^ a b Hellmich, M. (2010). The Ultimate Bar Book. Chronicle Books. p. 320. ISBN 978-0-8118-7290-4.
  7. ^ a b c d "Drink of the Week: Lemon Drop Martini". San Antonio Express-News. March 20, 2013. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  8. ^ Gurliacci, David (May 16, 2013). "How to Make a Lemon Drop Cocktail". Patch Media. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c Pavlides, Shereen (December 12, 2015). "Cook this: Lemon Drop Martini". The Beaver County Times. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  10. ^ "Cookbook review:". The Star Press. November 12, 2015. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  11. ^ Aikman-Smith, V.; Lehr, R. (2015). Juicy Drinks. Weldon Owen. p. pt96-97. ISBN 978-1-68188-008-2.
  12. ^ a b Stewart, M. (2015). Martha Stewart's Appetizers. Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony. p. 496. ISBN 978-0-307-95463-3.
  13. ^ a b Marszalek, Keith I. (June 21, 2010). "The Lemon Drop cocktail". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  14. ^ Lee, Lanee (September 23, 2015). "Pucker Up with 4 Lemon Drop Cocktails". Chilled Magazine. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  15. ^ a b Sherman, Chris (October 3, 2007). "Drink: Make me a . . . Lemon Drop Martini". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  16. ^ Gisslen, W. (2004). Professional Baking. Wiley. p. 38. ISBN 978-0-471-46427-3.
  17. ^ Algood, T. (2013). In a Snap!. Thomas Nelson. p. 116. ISBN 978-1-4016-0487-5.
  18. ^ Rivard, D. (2009). The Ultimate Fruit Winemaker's Guide: The Complete Reference Manual for All Fruit Winemakers. Bacchus Enterprises Winemakers. Createspace Independent Pub. p. 49. ISBN 978-1-4414-5092-0.
  19. ^ Walker, Judy (July 26, 2010). "Tales of the Cocktail of 'Fern Bars' seminar is a trip down memory lane". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  20. ^ Saekel, Karola (September 7, 2005). "Culinary Pioneers / From Acme bread to Zuni Cafe, the Bay Area has shaped how America eats". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  21. ^ a b c McDonnell, D.; Abiol, L. (2015). Drinking the Devil's Acre: A Love Letter from San Francisco and her Cocktails. Chronicle Books. pp. 185–186. ISBN 978-1-4521-4062-9. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  22. ^ Whiting, Sam (March 2, 2011). "Henry Africa – dies". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  23. ^ Telfer, Jenny. "Eddie Rickenbacker's, an eccentric saloon in the Financial District of San Francisco (SoMa), epitomizes the spirit a city known for its quirky characters and strident individualism". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 12 December 2015. (Date of publication not available.)((cite web)): CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  24. ^ a b Abou-Ganim, T.; Faulkner, M.E.; Turner, T.; DeGroff, D. (2013). Vodka Distilled. Agate Publishing. pp. pt99-100. ISBN 978-1-57284-712-5. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  25. ^ "Three Modern Takes on the Yuppie, Seventies-Era Cocktail Spot". Bloomberg Businessweek. July 16, 2015. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  26. ^ Solomon, K. (2014). Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It: And Other Cooking Projects. Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony. p. 385. ISBN 978-1-60774-769-7.
  27. ^ a b Santos, Franke (May 27, 2011). "Drink of the Week: Raspberry Lemon Drop at Splashes Bar". Patch Media. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  28. ^ Aikey, Deb (July 19, 2012). "Bartender suggested summer drink recipes". The Record. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  29. ^ Haasarud, K.; Grablewski, A. (2014). 101 Shots. Wiley. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-118-45673-6.
  30. ^ Ellis, Susan (April 13, 2013). "Out of the Bleu Week". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  31. ^ Pierce, Kim (September 21, 2011). "A collection of recipes for skinny cocktails". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  32. ^ "Limoncello Lemon Drop". Basil And Bubbly. 2021-04-29. Retrieved 2023-04-26.
  33. ^ Charming, C.; Bourgoin, S. Just Martinis: A Little Book of Liquid Elegance. Globe Pequot Press. pp. 64–68. ISBN 978-0-7627-6298-9.
  34. ^ "Oprah's Lemon Drop Martini Video". Oprah.com. 2006. Retrieved 12 December 2015.

Further reading