Better than candy
Hot enough for you? Yeah, we’re tired of talking about the weather, too. So let’s just cool off with a drink already.
Fortunately, the Lemon Drop Cocktail should perk us right up. This smooth drink soothes and refreshes on a hot afternoon. It’s sweet, but the lemon lends just enough tartness for pre-dinner sipping.
Think of it as your new lemon aid.
Recipe: The Lemon Drop Cocktail
The Lemon Drop Cocktail (sometimes called the Lemon Drop Martini—see Notes) was inspired by lemon drop candy—a lemon-flavored hard candy, usually with a coating of sugar, that is often shaped to look like a tiny lemon.
The Lemon Drop Cocktail contains citron vodka, fresh lemon juice, and granulated sugar or (better yet) simple syrup (preferably Homemade). It resembles a vodka version of our old favorite, The Sidecar Cocktail. But the Sidecar contains brandy or cognac, which makes the flavor a bit heavy for warm weather. So during the dog days of summer, we prefer the Lemon Drop.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves 1.
- 2 ounces citron vodka
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon simple syrup, preferably Homemade (or to taste; see Notes)
- garnish of sugar for coating the rim (optional; see Notes)
- garnish of a lemon twist or slice (optional)
- Combine all ingredients (except garnish) in a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Shake briskly until the drink is cold (20 seconds or so—the cocktail shaker will frost).
- You’ll be using a cocktail (martini) glass for this drink. If you’d like to garnish the rim with sugar, here’s how: Wet the outside of the glass’s rim with lemon juice. Dip the outside rim in sugar, and then swirl the glass in the sugar to coat. We sometimes coat only half the rim.
- Strain the mixture into the cocktail glass. Add a lemon twist or slice for garnish if you wish. Serve.
- We shake (rather than stir) this drink because it contains citrus juice. Shaking does a much better job of incorporating citrus.
- Citron vodka, as the name suggests, has a lemony flavor. It was probably invented by the folks at Absolut, a Swedish company. We like their version, called Absolut Citron, so that’s what we use in this drink, although there are other good brands available. Our usual reminder: This blog is noncommercial, and we don’t receive compensation for mentioning brands. We buy our booze with our own money, and recommend only what we like.
- BTW, you can make your own citron vodka at home (by infusing plain vodka with lemon). If you want to experiment with this, Google is your friend. We haven’t tried it, but we may at some point—we really like the Lemon Drop, and can see how it would be fun to make our own citron vodka.
- We like a ratio of 2 parts of citron vodka to 1 part lemon juice for this cocktail, sweetened with just enough simple syrup to balance the drink. A teaspoon of simple syrup does it for us (when using 2 ounces of citron vodka); you may prefer a bit more or less.
- Some people like to make this drink with granulated sugar instead of simple syrup. The sugar usually doesn’t completely dissolve when you shake the drink, so the cocktail will have a “gritty” aspect (the idea is to mimic the texture of lemon drop candy). Cute, but we’ll take the simple syrup—it dissolves readily and is just easier to use.
- Some mixologists substitute Cointreau (an orange-flavored liqueur) for simple syrup or sugar. We prefer simple syrup, but feel free to experiment. You’ll probably want to adjust the quantity a bit. We would suggest 2 ounces citron vodka, 1 ounce lemon juice, plus 1 ounce (or maybe a bit less) of Cointreau.
- Sugaring the rim makes this drink look pretty, and the hit of sweetness you get makes it seem like popping a lemon drop candy into your mouth. But be warned: The condensation that forms on the glass tends to make the sugar melt and run, so it can get a bit messy. We love the look, but most of the time we don’t bother with sugaring the rim.
- So, how did this drink originate? Who knows! As is the case with many cocktails, its beginnings are murky. The Lemon Drop probably was invented in the late 1980s or (more likely) the early 1990s, when citrus vodka became popular.
- And it was probably called the Lemon Drop “Martini” at first. Those were the days when people were just rediscovering cocktails—and the cool look of the classic V-shaped cocktail glass. Because that glass was associated with the Martini Cocktail, many people started calling any drink served in a cocktail glass a “martini.” You know—the Chocolate Martini, the Appletini, and so on. Whatever.
- How about the history of lemon drop candy? Well, Wikipedia says it was created in 1806, and originally called The Salem Gibraltar. As in Salem, Massachusetts and the Rock of Gibraltar (it was hard candy—get it?) There was also a peppermint version. Lemon drop candies made such an impression on Nathaniel Hawthorne (who hailed from Salem) that he mentioned them in The House of the Seven Gables, referring to them as “fragments of Gibraltar rock.”
“I’ve never been a big fan of vodka—or of sweet drinks,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “But citron vodka? With fresh lemon juice? Bow Wow Wow, I want candy!”
“The Lemon Drop is a winner,” I agreed. “But I haven’t thought of that song—or that band—in years.”
“Glad to lead you down memory lane,” said Mrs K R. “Especially if I can carry a drink as gorgeous as this one. It’s real eye candy.”
“Goes down easy, too,” I said. “Like taking candy from a baby.”
“So, candy man,” said Mrs K R. “Can I sweet talk you into making me another of these?”
“Sure thing, sweet heart,” I said. “These are so much fun to make, I feel like a kid in a candy store.”
Sweet dreams, everyone.
You may also enjoy reading about:
The Sidecar Cocktail
Maiden's Prayer Cocktail
Or check out the index for more
Lemon Aid? LOL ...
One of my favorites and too often thought of as only for the girls. Adult lemonade it is and boys like lemonade too right? :)
Hi Alanna, :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love the sound of this. I'm sure I'd probably get rip roaring drunk drinking it too since I love lemon drops. I'd probably just down this like it was water. This sounds so easy to make as well. It would be fun to make my own flavored vodka's although I'd probably have to give it away since I rarely drink. Fun post thanks for sharing.
Hi Barbara, boys definitely like lemonade, particularly of the adult variety! And this is a superb drink --we'll be keeping a bottle of Citron vodka on hand just to make this. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Vicki, this really is an easy-drinking cocktail. Which is kinda dangerous, as you point out. Really a good one, though. Thanks for the comment.
Alright, I laughed out loud at the Bow Wow Wow reference, I am a child of the 80's :)
I do love lemon drops and even brought I don't drink, I love the idea of this cocktail! Bet it's fantastic!
Hi Nazneen, that line was sooo much fun to write! The drink is really good, and tastes very much like the candy (although our recipe isn't nearly as sweet). Really good stuff! :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is really dangerous! I might drink it like lemonade! I also love the simple syrup instead of just sugar. I don't care for gritty drinks and I also prefer things simpler. Great Photo!
What a lovely refreshing cocktail! I used to eat lemon drops all the time years ago. I haven't had one in years. But this drink surely will ease my craving. I had no idea that this was called after the lemon drops. You always have such good information. This drink looks so good! I don't drink much anymore, but this one is a must try..I love the rim and the twist of lemon. Fabulous post for a hot summer day! Enjoy your day!
I really love the cocktails you share John! You're my go to cocktail blog now. I've visited your classic martini recipe countless times! I remember lemon drops and I love the idea of a cocktail inspired by it!!
Hi Ansh, simple syrup rules! A nice thing about it is if you don't put enough it at first, it's easy enjoy just to squirt a bit more in -- dissolves right away! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Dottie, if you like the candy, you'll love the drink! Really good stuff. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Nagi, cocktails are fun, aren't they? And this is a good one! Thanks for the comment.
I am no fan of lemons..... So I will take your word on this one ;)
Hi GiGi, it's really good. Although not being a fan of lemons, you'll never know! :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is a favorite drink for a "The Mean Girls," a group of us at work that from time to time have to get together to vent. It is a great venting drink! :) Definitely need one now to cool off!
The lemon drop candy was my favorite. Probably that candy that created all of the cavities I had as a kid. :) Because of my love for the candy, I know I could easily become addicted to this cocktail. This is right up my alley John. Thanks!
I've always been fond of the lemon drop! Perfectly refreshing---and ideal sipping drink on this sultry day :)
Hi Debra, I don't often need to vent, but will have to remember that! Thanks for the comment.
Hi MJ, you'll like this. Really, really like it. Which of course is both a good and bad thing. :-) Definitely something you should try. You'll like it! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, it's been sultry here the last couple of days. Time for a Lemon Drop! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
As children we had a babysitter that carried lemon drops in her pocket, wrapped in kleenex. I sure hope that kleenex was clean because we ate a lot of lemon drops. I still love them, but now I'd choose this any day. It is a really good drink!
Hi Abbe, only problem with carrying lemon drops in a Kleenex is when the lemon drops get sticky and stick to the Kleenex. You end up eating a lot of Kleenex fuzz! Ask me how I know. ;-) And yes, although the candy is good, this is much better. Thanks for the comment.
John...it's only 8:27am but I had to stop by for a sip....umm....a look at my FAVORITE cocktail ever! This is my hands down...go to cocktail. I love this drink. And I really love how you photograph your cocktails. I woke up with a sore throat this morning....so I'm thinking one or two of these later today.....you know....for medicinal reasons....should help! Beautiful drink....thanks for sharing it! : )
Hi Anne, sorry about your sore throat! But this will make it all better. Lemon does, you know. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi John, this looks perfect for a hot day, I'm craving for one so I can cool down!
Hi Jasline, this really is a nice, soothing drink on a hot day! Very refreshing. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I gotta agree with Mrs. KR - this is eye candy indeed! And those lemony notes must make this such a refreshing drink to have!
Hi Shashi, this is such a great tasting (and looking!) drink -- it's become a real favorite of ours. Thanks for the comment.
I love lemon and this is such a gorgeous and refreshing looking drink!
Hi Laura, if you like lemon, this has your number! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi John, this would be my drink, I'm going to have to make this, I love lemon. Perfect for summer!
Hi Cheri, this really is a wonderful summer drink! Thanks for the comment.
Love the piece of conversation... What's not to like about this beauty, better than candy drink? Cheers to you both!
Hi Denise, those conversations are so much fun to write! And pretty true to life. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Great tips and tricks from the master shaker :). Thanks for another delightful cocktail fix!
Julie & Alesah
Gourmet Getaways xx
Any drink that elicits a response as fun as 'Bow Wow Wow, I want candy!' is a drink I need in my life.
I know we are not supposed to reference the weather, but this citrusy yarm is perfect for cold & flu fighting right? Its practically lem sip.
As always, thanks for keeping my work bar menu fancy and delicious. Having one of these made for me as I type.
Happy weekend John! :)
It's not at all hot here and I wouldn't mind some heat. However...this weekend is going to be warm and we'll have 23C (73.5) here on Sunday. Joy! This is my kind of cocktail - citrus flavours, clear and not too sweet. And I'll have the lemon drops too xx
Hi Julie & Alesah, isn't this a nice drink? Love its looks, and its flavor is outstanding. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Anna, always happy to help out at work! :-) And absolutely, this is perfect medicine to fight colds and flu. Good preventive medicine, too;, so you might want to keep that in mind. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Charlie, have to confess we've already eaten the props! :-) Glad it's warming up there -- only another month to spring for you! Thanks for the comment.
Greetings from Budapest! Love the sound of this, John... cin cin!
Lemon drops are one of my favs.. so why not in a cocktail! I can only imagine how refreshing this is for the hot month we've been having!
Hi Lizzy, you must be having a terrific time in Budapest! Have some cherry soup. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pamela, if you like lemon drops, the candy, you'll definitely like lemon drop, the cocktail. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Wowee, this is fantastic! It reminds me of Dumbledore, who loves lemon drops. Totally loving this.
This is one of my faves! And I haven't had one in ages. You have me longing for one now. I must break out my martini glasses.
Hi Ala, I was thinking of Dumbledore as I was writing this! This is a great drink -- terrific flavor. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Carolyn, you need one of these! This has become a big favorite for us, too. In fact, we bought some more citron vodka today! Thanks for the comment.
Citrus cocktails are the best - and it's been so hot here, this sounds like the perfect relief!!
I love lemons and now that I've given birth, I can enjoy this!
Hi Sue, this really is a refreshing cocktail in warm weather! Plus it tastes really good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Totally agree, this is a beauty. A lovely sight and the I would love love to sip it right now. Perfection.
Hi Peachy, you should drink one of these to celebrate your little one's first month! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Asha, isn't this a pretty drink? Although I think we say that about half the drinks we do! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I just got back from Florida where I would have happily taken a bath in one of these. GREG
Hi Greg, Florida at this time of the year is so HOT and HUMID! You could definitely bathe in one of these. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a delightful drink! I don't know the song you mentioned, but I immediately thought of the song, "If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gumdrops...". Appropriate, because it's raining hard enough to be lemon drops right now!
This cocktail would be so dangerous for me- I have a real sweet tooth so I'm sure I would glug down two or three with no problem!
Hi Beth, isn't this nice? This drink has such a nice flavor. And we could use some rain right now, preferably lemon drop size. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Fran, these really are smooth and easy drinking -- which really can be dangerous! Thanks for the comment.
Oh now this looks like a super yummy treat! I always loved lemon drop candies as a kid.
I'm thinking of translating this to a pitcher-size version to serve at a summer party next week. Impeccable timing, John.
Hi Amy, that's a great candy, isn't it? And the cocktail is even better! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Rosemary, a pitcher of these would be wonderful! Sounds like a great party. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I am puckering my lips just reading this post. I love that sour and sweet combo makes my mouth water. I can't drink a lot of sweet drinks like Mrs. Riff but I would love one of these as a nightcap. Pretty photo with it shot in the light background. You should make a book with all of your delicious cocktails, it would be a hit!
What a fun, refreshing summer drink! Can imagine sipping one of these by a pool :)
One of my very favorite drinks!
Hi Bam, you'd love this drink! Really pleasant flavor. Thanks for the kind words, and for taking time to comment.
HI Mary, yup, this is a great pool drink! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pam, it's a good one, isn't it? We really like it too! Thanks for the comment.
For the Pacific NW it has been unseasonably hot for a couple of months. This drink looks soooooooooo refreshing. When I first saw the Lemon Drop in the title, I thought Wow John is baking cookies????? And frankly I don't need anymore lemon cookies. But a lemon cocktail----now that is a whole story. And you know I like stories.
Hi Carol, yup, you do like stories. And you'll like this, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love it - just from the name but when I read the ingredients I like it even better - and so simple!
Hi Chris, this really is a simple drink to make. And really, really good! Thanks for the comment.
Hi John, this lemon drop look attractive. Very refreshing drink. Thanks for sharing.
Have a great day, regards
I love lemon drinks, I bet this tastes so good.
Hi Amelia, this really is a refreshing drink! Very soothing in warm weather. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Caroline, yeah, we're big lemon fans too! And this does taste really good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I've heard a lot about this drink but have never tasted it. I'm starting to think I've lead a sheltered life! I adore lemon drinks so I bet this would be a favorite :)
I've heard about this drink! Looks fantastic! Love this lemony taste! Must be delicious!
HI Tricia, if you like lemon, you'll love this drink! Really good stuff. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Marcela, it is delicious! Definitely worth trying. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
I remember eating lemon drop candy when I was a kid. This lemon drop cocktail sounds like it would really refreshing and wonderful to sip on.
Hi Dawn, the candy is really good! And the cocktail is even better. :-) Thanks for the comment.
HMM!! I LOVE the sound of this cocktail! As you know I'm not a big alcohol drinker, but I will thoroughly enjoy this. The citrus is almost necessity in the hot weather (but SF is cool... :( ). Beautiful shot as always, John! :)
Hi Nami, you can pretend it's hot in SF. ;-) This really is a great drink -- you'd love it! Thanks for the comment.
Loved the look and the name of the cocktail!!! Yes, its hot here too, in the 80's. Thanks for the comment on the garden cage. Yes, we did put the tall mesh netting around my garden last week. But there is nothing in the garden left from the mess the deer already made. Hopeful this preventive measure will help for next year's garden.
Hi Shibi, isn't this a great drink? So refreshing! Thanks for the comment.
This cocktail is my girlfriend's all time favorite. Now I know how to make it for her!
Hi Kristi, this is such a good drink! We had it again recently -- just so refreshing in warm weather. Thanks for the comment.
I love lemon drop candies, so I can only assume I will love this cocktail just as much. As always, incredible cocktails John!
Hi Amanda, this is a really good cocktail! Definitely worth trying sometime. Thanks for the comment.
I love lemon drop martini, but never made it myself...yours look so good...so refreshing!
Hi Juliana, isn't this a good drink? And really easy to make! Thanks for the comment.
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