How to make a perfect classic lemon drop (tips from a bartender)

Over the past 9 years I’ve spent as a bartender, I’ve enjoyed adding drink recipes to my repertoire. One of my standby favorites is a classic Lemon Drop Martini.  When made properly, this drink is a delicious, refreshing balance of sweetness and acidity. Below I’ve included my tips to master this classic drink!

Use A Good Quality Vodka

A martini is only as good as the quality of the liquor used. There’s no need to spend a fortune, but I do recommend as least springing for a mid-shelf vodka. For a Lemon Drop, Tito’s Vodka is (an affordable) good quality option. 

Use Real Lemons

There’s no substitute for the flavor of freshly squeezed lemon juice! Bottles of store-bought lemon juice almost always contain additives and preservatives, these unwanted flavors will show up in your drink. Any fresh lemons from your local grocery store will do, however Meyer Lemons are my personal favorite!

Use your Favorite Lemonade

Lemon drops require a bit of sweetness to balance the sour and bitter flavors of the lemons. At the bar, I use a dash of simple syrup and a splash of house-made bar sour. However, for this at-home recipe, a splash lemonade will work just fine! Use which ever brand you like the best.

Store your Martini Glasses in the Freezer

If you happen to have a little extra room your freezer, store a couple martini glasses in there! This will keep your martinis icy cold longer, for a more enjoyable sipping experience!

Invest in a Shaker

If you are at all interested in making quality cocktails at home, I highly recommend purchasing a proper shaker. Shaking vodka with ice (rather than just chilling it) “bruises” the liquor, which actually changes the flavor profile of the vodka in a positive way. Additionally, shaking all the ingredients in a martini together will result in a smooth and well incorporated cocktail.

Here’s my recipe for a perfect made-at-home Lemon Drop!

Ingredients (makes 1 lemon drop)

  • 2 oz vodka (Tito’s or your personal favorite)
  • 1/2 oz triple sec (any brand will do)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 oz lemonade
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 Tbl sugar


  1. Slice lemon in half, then cut the half lemon into 4 wedges
  2. Sprinkle sugar onto a small plate (at least the circumference of the rim of the glass)
  3. Use one wedge of lemon to coat the rim of the glass in lemon juice, then dip the rim of the glass in the sugar. Cut a slit in the meat of the lemon wedge and place on the edge of the glass as a garnish. 
  4. Scoop ice into shaker
  5. Add vodka and triple sec to shaker
  6. Squeeze and add remaining three wedges of lemon to shaker
  7. Add lemonade to shaker
  8. Shake vigorously for at least 20 seconds 
  9. Strain into glass
  10. Enjoy!