Cooking for One

Lemon Drop Martini

November 17, 2022
1 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth. Food Stylist: Lauren LaPenna.
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 3 minutes
  • makes 1 cocktail
Author Notes

Like so many cocktails before it, the exact history of the Lemon Drop Martini—or Lemon Drop, for short—is something of a mystery. Whether or not you believe the lore behind this candy-inspired martini (it was supposedly invented in the '70s at a San Francisco bar), facts are facts: Oprah declared this her favorite cocktail on national television in 2006 and there’s probably footage somewhere on the internet to back this up.

Celebrity aside, the success of the Lemon Drop Martini lies in the balance between sweet and sour and the addition of a quality vodka, like Ketel One. This recipe takes the basic Lemon Drop formula of vodka, simple syrup, and lemon juice and adds orange liqueur for an extra citrus boost.

This recipe is shared in partnership with Ketel One Vodka.Alexis deBoschnek

Test Kitchen Notes

Pucker up, buttercup.

This Lemon Drop Martini starts the way any good martini begins—by placing the martini glass in the freezer so that it gets super-cold. While it chills, make the simple syrup with equal parts granulated sugar and water. (You can purchase store-bought simple syrup, but why would you want to?) Once the sugar has dissolved, let the syrup cool completely before using it. Then, fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add vodka (we love Ketel One but feel free to use your favorite), freshly squeezed lemon juice, orange liqueur, and ¾ ounce of simple syrup. Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is frosted and so cold you feel like you’re seconds away from recreating a scene in A Christmas Story.

Once all of the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, prep the martini glass for serving:Rim the glass with granulated sugar, pour the cocktail into the glass, and garnish with–what else?–a lemon twist. It tastes like actually good hard lemonade with a delicious history (as noted above).

OK, what precisely does a lemon drop martini taste like? If you’ve ever sucked on an actual lemon drop—the pale-yellow hard candy—that sweet-meets-sour flavor is exactly what you should expect from this cocktail. Oh, and it’s strong. (It is a martini, after all). Sip slowly on one and enjoy the refreshing, tart taste of fresh lemon juice accented by even more citrus. For the orange liqueur the recipe calls for, we like Cointreau or Triple Sec—either would be a delicious addition to this drink. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 ounces Ketel One Vodka
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce orange liqueur
  • 1 lemon twist, for garnish
  1. Place martini glass in the freezer to chill.
  2. Make the simple syrup: Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and water to a small pot set over medium-high heat and whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the water is simmering, about 1 minute. Set aside and let cool completely.
  3. Make the martini: Fill a shaker up with ice. Add the Ketel One Vodka, lemon juice, orange liqueur, and ¾ ounce of the simple syrup. Shake for 10 to 20 seconds, or until the outside of the shaker is frosty-cold.
  4. Place the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar on a small dish. Remove the martini glass from the freezer and dip the rim of the glass in the sugar.
  5. Strain the martini into the chilled martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist. Serve right away.

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Alexis deBoschnek is a freelance recipe developer, cook, and video host based in the Catskills.

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