How to Make the Best Mouthpuckering Lemon Drop Martini Ever


When life hands you lemons…..make Lemon Drops!

If your gonna go to the trouble of making them…then…. Make THE BEST Lemon Drop Martinis.

Be sure to watch my cocktail videos on Instagram TV @winewithlisa.

Remember Lemon Drop/Lemonhead Candies from when you were a kid? Here’s the grown up version in a cocktail  with the same mouthwatering and mouth puckering flavors we loved, but with vodka! Yum!

Love for Lemons is the mother of creativity, for cocktails at least!

Homemade Limoncello and Blood Orangecello were the first endeavors on the agenda. Recipes for both will be posted soon. Who doesn’t love that one-of-a-kind lemony sweet aperitif? But, what to do with the juice from 14 lemons and 14 blood oranges??? Well, today I’m posting this recipe for my favorite Lemon Drop Cocktail/Martini and  I’ll be posting my recipe for Spicy Blood Orange Margarita next and Limoncello next.

You know what? All the extra lemon and blood orange juices are gone. How about that! No wasting ingredients here!

Lemon Drops and I go wayyyy back

Of all the cocktails that I love, Lemon Drop Cocktails are probably my all-time favorite. There’s never a bad time for a Lemon Drop Martini. Many years ago, after I had moved to my first apartment, my friend showed up at the pool with a pitcher of Lemon Drops made – I think with Crystal Light Lemonade and vodka, and we proceeded to drink the whole thing. They were sooooo refreshing and delicious for a hot summer’s day. When I made my way from Louisiana, Tennessee, then Austin, Texas I discovered that the bars around here made the best Lemon Drop shots and martinis I had ever had. That was then, this in now.

Should be easy to make, right?

Now, many years later, I wanted to create the best Lemon Drop Martini that I could (that rivals the bars in Austin)  and now I believe I have the best recipe and know what is essential for the perfect tart, sweet and refreshing cocktail that one can find.

Cointreau. No substitutions. Don’t even think about it.

Freshly squeezed lemon juice is a must. Don’t even try to make them if you think you can get away with that squeeze bottle stuff. The smoothest, cleanest tasting vodka is best. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive but it HAS to free of off-flavors.  Choose your favorite. I don’t believe you need a lemon-flavored vodka if you do it right. After all, fresh ingredients are the best. The French orange liqueur, Cointreau is as essential as the right vodka. It’s heads and shoulders above any other orange-flavored liqueur on the market for quality and flavor. Yep, it’s more expensive but it is so worth it. The cocktail will not be the best you’ve ever made IF you don’t use it. If you don’t believe me, try making one with another orange liqueur. It’s just not the same and doesn’t have the pure flavors of bitter sweet orange. Cointreau tastes the most authentic. Trust me.

Simple syrup is easy to make or easy to buy already made. If you have sugar, you can make simple syrup. So you have extra on hand, bring to boil 1 cup of filtered water and 1 cup of white sugar until dissolved. Cool. Use what you need an put in a container and refrigerate.

Another thing I discovered is that by adding a crunchy lemon-flavored sugar to the rim re-creates the flavor of those deliciously mouthwatering, mouth-puckering lemon candies from our childhood. Just blending regular sugar and lemon zest is perfect but experience with lemon-flavored sugar or crushing up lemon drops and using those to rim the glass-Genius. Now we’re talking!

The right ice IS an essential ingredient!

One more thing before you check out the photos…, ice baby. Ice is probably the most important ingredient in your cocktail that takes your cocktail from good to the best ever! I discovered the Opal Nugget Ice Machine for home and, well, I am hooked. Check it out below.

Check out the recipe. I wouldn’t change a thing, except, if you need to of course, more lemon for more pucker and more or less simple syrup to balance the pucker. Experiment and make it your own.

Use any high quality vodka but do not, I repeat DO NOT substitute Cointreau. It is an essential ingredient needed to make the perfect cocktail. Do not leave it out and do not substitute with any other orange-flavored liqueur, or it won’t be the best ever, just sayn.

lemon zest and sugar for rimming the glasses

Lemon Drop Martini
Prep time
Total time
Lemon Drop Martinis have been my favorite cocktail for many years after discovering this cool cocktail at the bars I frequented in Austin, Texas. Such an easy cocktail to make but to make it right I had to get the right ingredients and in the right proportions. I believe I have accomplished this! Cheers!
Recipe type: cocktail
Cuisine: cocktail
Serves: 1
  • 2 oz (4 T ) vodka, good quality, local vodka when you can.
  • ¾ oz ( 1-1/2 T) Cointreau (no substitutions), OR it won't be the best
  • ¾ to 1 oz (1-1/2 to 2 T) simple syrup, increase amount for a sweeter cocktail
  • 1 oz (2 T) freshly squeezed lemon juice, (no substitutions or it won't be the best)
  • Substitute Meyer Lemons for a slightly different flavor
  • ice, pellet ice is the best to use but any crushed ice will do
  • ¼ cup sugar, Crushed up Lemon Drops, or lemon-flavored sugar for extra flavor
  • Substitute crunchy sugar such as Demerara sugar for a Lemon Drop candy-like texture
  • zest from one or more lemons
  • cocktail shaker
  • lemon slices for garnish
  1. Place lemon zest and sugar on a place and mix until the zest is coated with sugar
  2. To Chilled Martini glasses, rub the edges with a bit of lemon
  3. Roll rims of glasses in the sugar mixture
  4. Measure all ingredients, Doubling or tripling for more than one cocktail at a time
  5. Adjust for lemon juice and sugar syrup according to your personal taste
  6. Place lemon zest and sugar on a place and mix until the zest is coated with sugar, set aside
  7. Add liquid ingredients to cocktail shaker with a small scoop of crushed ice
  8. Add a tablespoon or so of crushed ice to the Martini glasses
  9. Shake ingredients well and then immediately pour into rimmed glasses that have a little ice
  10. Cheers!

My essential Opal Nugget Ice Maker is featured here.  I LOVE IT! Ice is – in my opinion- what makes a difference in a good cocktail and the best one ever. Regular refrigerator ice just doesn’t work for my cocktails due to size, shape and taste. Nugget ice is similar to Sonic ice. It is crunchy, clean flavor and melts evenly and is perfect for Tiki cocktails.                                                                                                 More on that to come.                                                                                                                                                If you are a serious home bartender, you need to get one.

Check out those nuggets!



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