How to make a Lemon Drop Martini

This Lemon Drop cocktail recipe first appeared on Savory Experiments, where I am a contributor.

Lemon Drop Martinis are the perfect balance of sweet and tart. Calling for just four ingredients, these easy to make martinis are easy to sip and include a lemon sugar rim. Makes 1 drink.

Love a lemon drink? Don’t miss Arnold Palmer Iced Tea Lemonade Mocktail, Princess Violette Cocktail and Vodka Lemonade with Raspberry. And don’t forget How to make a Lemon Twist!

Three Lemon Drop Martinis garnished with mint leaves and lemon twists sit on a silver tray

I feel like ordering a Lemon Drop Martini at a bar is a rite of passage when you come of age… but it’s not necessarily something I’d think of as a drink I wanted to make at home until last year.

Let’s be real: We all tried recipes and things we normally wouldn’t make at home starting last year, right? 😉

Why I love this recipe:

This vodka martini recipe is beautifully balanced. It’s smooth—there is no cloying punch from the alcohol in the vodka or the tartness of the lemon juice—and strikes a perfect balance between sweet and tart.

The key to the tastiest Lemon Drop Martini is using freshly squeezed lemon juice and taking the time to make the homemade lemon sugar rim, which makes it feel even fancier.

This cocktail is perfect for an at-home happy hour, girls’ night in or any other time you want to pour a celebratory drink!

Other fun drinks to make at home for sharing: Vanilla Hot Chocolate Martini | Strawberry French Monaco Drink | Honeysuckle Cherry Smash | Raspberry Moscow Mule | Blackberry Ginger White Wine Slush | Pimm’s Cup

Looking for a drink, but don’t know where to begin? Head on over to my Cocktail Recipe Index for ideas!

Lemon juice, simple syrup, vodka and Cointreau in bottles on a marble surface surrounded by other mixed drink materials

What you need to make this cocktail

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In addition to these tools, you also need some ingredients. Here they are:

  • Vodka—high-quality, unflavored vodka is best. However, if you have citron vodka on hand and would like for your martini to be super lemony, give that a shot!
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice—the shelf-stable stuff from the store simply will not work here. We want that lemony punch, and it’s got to come from fresh juice. Alternately, you can purchase cold pressed lemon juice from the refrigerated section of your grocery—it’ll be close to the pre-cut fruits and veggies, and this works like a charm if you don’t want to squeeze your own.
  • Simple syrup—you can make this at home or purchase it from the store. I tend to keep a jar of it in my refrigerator at all times for when happy hour rolls around.
  • Cointreau or triple sec—this orange liqueur adds a hint of smoothness to the lemon martini. Trust me on this because I found this cocktail a little potent without it.
  • Lemon zest—preferably from that lemon you plan to juice… just be sure to zest it before you squeeze it!
  • Granulated sugar—because a sugared rim needs sugar!

Pro tip: After juicing your lemon(s), use a fine mesh strainer to strain out any pulp or seeds before pouring it into your cocktail shaker.

Alcohol in a Lemon Drop

Some lemon martini recipes call for citron vodka. This one, however, uses unflavored vodka because we’re adding a lot of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Also, if I’m being honest, citron vodka isn’t something we keep in our house, and I’d bet you don’t, either.

If you want your lemon drop to be even more lemon-y, feel free to add the citron vodka, but it’s certainly not a requirement.

Since this is a vodka martini, you want to use good quality vodka. Tito’s is my favorite.

A collage of four images shows how to make a lemon sugar rim, how to rim a martini glass and how to pour a drink into it

How to make a Lemon Drop Martini

First, make the lemon sugar to rim your martini glasses. Measure out the granulated sugar into a bowl. Zest a lemon with a microplane zester directly into the sugar, and stir with a spoon.

If using immediately, transfer to a plate or a wide bowl to where a martini glass can be dipped into it. If not, transfer to an airtight container, and store in the fridge.

Did you know? The lemon sugar keeps in the fridge and can be made 3-4 days in advance. Just be sure to store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator!

To rim your glasses with the lemon sugar, run a lemon wedge around the top of the glass. Don’t fret if lemon juice drips down into the glass—this’ll just add some more lemon goodness to the final drink. Dip the glasses into the prepared lemon sugar, circling the glass around until sugar sticks to the rim.

Mix the Lemon Drop Martini. Place ice cubes in your cocktail shaker, then pour in the vodka, freshly squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup and Cointreau (or triple sec.) Shake vigorously until chilled, then strain and pour into the prepared martini glass(es.)

A single Lemon Drop Martini sits on a marble surface in front of a cocktail shaker and a lemon wedge

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a lemon drop cocktail made of?

This lemon drop recipe includes vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup and triple sec. We also make a festive (and easy) lemon sugar rim to elevate the cocktail even more.

What’s the difference between Cointreau and triple sec?

They’re both orange liqueurs, but Cointreau has a higher ABV, meaning it has more alcohol than a traditional triple sec. Both work in this recipe, but I’m partial to Cointreau.

Is martini made with gin or vodka?

A classic martini is made with gin, but a vodka martini is a thing, too! I have a few of them, like Smores Martinis, Skinny Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Martinis and Funfettini Birthday Cake Martini.

How do you make a lemon twist garnish?

Cut a round of lemon, and slice through one side of the peel. Using your knife or your hands, gently pull the lemon flesh and pith away from the peel. If necessary, trim any additional white pith from the peel. Twist the peel, using a finger or a straw as a guide. It should hold its shape.

Three Lemon Drops sit on a marble surface next to lemon sugar, lemon wedges and a golden jigger

If you liked this Lemon Drop, you might also like these recipes:

A single Lemon Drop Martini sits on a marble surface in front of a cocktail shaker and a lemon wedge
Yield: 1 drink

Lemon Drop Martini

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Lemon Drop Martinis are the perfect balance of sweet and tart. Calling for just four ingredients, these easy to make martinis are easy to sip and include a lemon sugar rim.

Ingredients

Lemon Sugar (Makes enough for 4 drinks)

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • Zest from 1 small lemon (about 1 tablespoon)

Lemon Drop Martini

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1 ½ oz. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • ¾ oz. simple syrup
  • ¾ oz. Cointreau or triple sec
  • Ice for shaking
  • Lemon sugar, for garnish
  • Lemon wedge or twist, for garnish

Instructions

Make the lemon sugar

  1. In a small bowl or plate, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Stir until mixed, and set aside.
  2. Run a lemon wedge along the rim of a martini glass.
  3. Dip the glass into the lemon sugar, turning the glass to coat the rim.

Make the Lemon Drop Martini

  1. Place ice in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Measure in the vodka, freshly squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup and Cointreau.
  3. Shake until the liquid inside is frigid, then strain and pour into the lemon sugar-lined martini glass.
  4. Garnish with a lemon twist or wedge, and enjoy immediately.

Notes

What’s the difference between Cointreau and triple sec? They’re both orange liqueurs, but Cointreau has a higher ABV, meaning it has more alcohol than a traditional triple sec. Both work in this recipe, but I’m partial to Cointreau.

How do you make a lemon twist garnish? Cut a round of lemon, and slice through one side of the peel. Using your knife or your hands, gently pull the lemon flesh and pith away from the peel. If necessary, trim any additional white pith from the peel. Twist the peel, using a finger or a straw as a guide. It should hold its shape.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

1 drink

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 625Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 18mgCarbohydrates: 106gFiber: 7gSugar: 87gProtein: 3g

Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

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