Thomas D. Williams
Lemon Drop Martini
Updated: Jun 16, 2020
This classic martini is a superb summery quaff that makes you feel as if you are on vacation even when you are not. There is something so poolside, so deliciously irresponsible about the lemon drop that it can help you shift gears and disconnect from even a grueling work day. The wonderful tartness of the drink makes it a natural companion to seafood hors-d'oeuvres (think raw oysters, shrimp cocktail or fish tacos) but it can also serve as a lead-in to barbecued meat, shish kebobs, or other warm weather fare.
The lemon drop is wonderful for its utter simplicity. It is basically just fresh squeezed lemon, vodka, and a sweetener to round out the acidity of the lemon. It is also easy to up the volume so a large shaker can be prepared to serve multiple people. While the traditional recipe calls for the use of simple syrup, I often forego this and use Cointreau instead as I find it adds some complexity to the taste while also furnishing the necessary sweetness.
While approximate proportions of the ingredients can be given, this is one of those drinks that I prepare by feel, so each time it comes out a little different. I like mine quite lemony so I use significantly more juice than most recipes call for.
Regarding the choice of vodka, there is no reason to use Grey Goose or Beluga for this, since the lemon is so powerful it overwhelms any subtlety present in the spirits. I am partial to Russian vodka, so Stolichnaya is my go-to here, but Absolut, Titos, Ketel One or another premium grade vodka is fine as well. I do not recommend using flavored vodka as it can add an artificial, chemical note that is both unpleasant and frankly unnecessary.
One of the keys to a good lemon drop is serving it ice cold, so while chilling your glasses is optional for certain drinks, it is vital here.
- 3 parts vodka
- 1 part fresh-squeezed lemon (prepared lemon juice is unacceptable for this)
- 1 part Cointreau (simple syrup may also be added for increased sweetness)
Chill your martini glasses ahead of time. Optionally, just prior to serving, take them out of the freezer and rim the glasses with ultrafine sugar after running a lemon along the lip.
Fill a shaker three quarters full of ice. Add the lemon juice as well as the vodka and Cointreau. Shake vigorously for at least 20-30 seconds and strain into your martini glasses.
Garnish with lemon peel.