Easy Lemon Drop Martini Cocktail

How to make a perfect lemon drop martini cocktail with a homemade lemon sugar rim. Jump to the Lemon Drop Martini Recipe or watch our quick video showing you how to make it.

Watch Us Make the Recipe

How to Make a Seriously Good Lemon Drop Martini

The key to the best lemon drop martini is balancing sour and sweet. This is one of our absolute favorite cocktails to make at home. Read on below to see our tips for making it.

There are four things to keep in mind when making lemon drop martinis at home.

Easy Lemon Drop Martini Recipe with Video

Use Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice. The juice from a bottle just won’t cut it here. For one cocktail, you will need 1 ounce of lemon juice or the juice from half a large lemon.

Use quality vodka. Since this is a martini, there’s quite a bit of vodka called for. You don’t need to go straight to the top shelf, but choose a vodka that’s smooth. A few of our favorites are Kettle One, Stolichnaya (Stoli), and Tito’s.

Everything should be really cold. A lukewarm martini is no fun, so be sure to shake the heck out of it — if you want to go the extra mile, chill the martini glasses, too.

Add a lemon sugar rim. You’ve probably noticed rim sugar sold at the store. They are a great idea, but honestly, much easier to make at home yourself. To make our lemon drops extra special, we add a simple lemon sugar rim to our glasses. You could certainly stick with plain sugar, but since you’ve already bought the lemons for the fresh lemon juice, you might as well whip up this zesty sugar, right? To make it, rub the zest of one lemon into granulated sugar. Easy!

How to Make Lemon Sugar

One more thing — you’ll need simple syrup for this. You can buy simple syrup at the store for convenience, but it’s really easy to make at home.

Here’s our step-by-step instructions for how to make simple sugar. We made it in our recipe video, too — it only takes a few minutes.

Easy Lemon Drop Martini Cocktail

Recipe updated, originally posted July 2010. Since posting this in 2010, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear and added a quick recipe video. – Adam and Joanne

Easy Lemon Drop Martini Cocktail

  • PREP

There are three things to keep in mind when making lemon drop martinis at home. Fresh lemon juice is best, use a quality vodka, and serve the martini very cold. A few of our favorite mid-priced vodka brands are Kettle One, Stolichnaya (Stoli), and Tito’s. If you plan to make the lemon sugar, it is best to remove the zest from the lemon before juicing them for the martini. Then when you need to moisten the glass so that the sugar sticks, use the leftover lemon halves after juicing.

Makes 1 drink

You Will Need

Lemon Sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Zest from 1 lemon

Lemon Drop Martini

2 ounces (1/4 cup) quality vodka, try a citron vodka

3/4 ounce (1 1/2 tablespoons) Cointreau or triple sec

1 ounce (2 tablespoons) fresh squeezed lemon juice (Juice from 1/2 large lemon)

3/4 ounce (1 1/2 tablespoons) simple syrup, see our recipe for simple syrup


Lemon sugar, for glass rim


  • Make Lemon Sugar
  • Add sugar to a plate then rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers until tinted yellow and fragrant.

    • Make Martini
    • Moisten the rim of a chilled martini glass with the juiced lemon, turn the glass upside down and twist into the lemon sugar, set aside.

      Add vodka, Cointreau (or triple sec), lemon juice, simple syrup and a handful of ice to a cocktail shaker. Shake for 30 seconds or until very cold. Strain into the prepared martini glass and serve immediately.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Nutrition Facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

Nutrition Per Serving: Calories 256 / Protein 0 g / Carbohydrate 21 g / Dietary Fiber 0 g / Total Sugars 20 g / Total Fat 0 g / Saturated Fat 0 g / Cholesterol 0 mg
AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

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34 comments… Leave a Comment
  • H. Fox December 12, 2018, 7:05 pm

    Ok. I haven’t made many lemon drops in a while, but this is most definitely the best I can remember…and packs quite a punch. 🙂 Love it. Only one question: how would you increase volume by maybe 30% while not changing the overall balance of flavors?

  • john November 13, 2018, 7:10 pm

    My wife had some leftover lemon juice from preparing dinner so i told her i’d make her a martini. Came across this martini recipe – well worth it. Thanks – i didn’t have to pitch the lemon juice – positively delicious.

  • Christy November 8, 2018, 9:13 pm

    PERFECT! The best and so easy! Thanks!! 🙂

  • Lacey August 25, 2018, 2:01 pm

    Add two squirts or 1 tablespoon of toranis strawberry syrup to the mixer for a strawberry lemon drop. Absolutely amazing.

  • Linda May 7, 2018, 12:14 am

    I just made this martini. I have never made it with the lemon zest rim. Just sugar. Omg it was delicious. From now on & this day forward …… this is the way ill be making a lemon martini. Thanx 4 sharing

  • joni February 22, 2018, 5:46 pm

    This recipe is spot on! I freeze my martini glasses and use the simple syrup to rim the glass so that the lemon sugar sticks better!

  • Nikki February 3, 2018, 11:22 pm

    This recipe was really good and definitely smooth as far as martinis go. I recommend this one to anyone who loves these lemon drop martinis as much as I do! 🙂

  • Bird lee powell December 28, 2017, 9:04 pm

    I made this wonderful lemon drop. My late husbands fav. Believe me you have done him proud. P.s l shall carry on for him💕 Thank you.

  • Blissful Bill September 5, 2017, 9:25 pm

    Outstanding (and well-written) recipe! The simple syrup and lemon sugar make all the difference. Previous recipe I tried was harsh, but this one is smooth and delicious. FIVE STARS! Thanks Adam and Joanne!

    • Blissful Bill September 5, 2017, 9:28 pm

      BTW, I used regular Ketel One vodka and made your recipe for simple syrup. 😉

  • Bradley November 12, 2015, 7:28 pm

    I had my first lemon drop martini 2 weeks ago and have been dreaming about more! It was the best martini I have ever had. I am a Jack Daniel Single Barrel drinker. But for whatever reason have taken to ordering martinis when I go out. I am going to try to make this one at home and your recipe sounds like the one I had, actually 2! Wanted one more but can only drink 2. 3 and I am to light headed (nice way of saying slouched!). I will let you know how it turns out!

  • Tate May 7, 2011, 7:28 pm

    Found this recipe via Google and have gone through several bottles of Citron since then, not to mention forwarding the link three times upon request. Perfect recipe! I’ve taken to having a lemon drop after work for the past two weeks now! (uh oh.) Thanks for sharing.

  • Toni March 26, 2011, 3:08 pm

    Perfect! I was tasked with providing lemon drops for a friend’s birthday and settled in for the arduous task of trying several recipes. I tried yours first and went no further. Often I think lemon drops can be too sweet or too overpowering in flavor. Yours was amazing, had a great balance and went down a little too easy. Ask me again tomorrow morning!

  • Steph July 2, 2010, 10:15 am

    Marmalade is beautiful! I’d love a lemon drop martini right now – might help motivate me to work on the Friday before a holiday!

  • Eliana July 1, 2010, 2:04 pm

    This sounds like the perfect way to get the vacation bug.

  • Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon July 1, 2010, 10:20 am

    I bet those cocktails tasted every bit as good as they look. Would it be inappropriate to sip one of these at my desk this afternoon?

    • inspiredtaste July 1, 2010, 10:22 am

      I won’t tell if you don’t tell 🙂


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