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