Lemon drop shot with vodka is just one way of making a Lemon drop.

Some people prefer having lemon drop cocktails with a combination of a sweet, sour, and pungent lemony taste. It’s fun to prepare lemon drop shots in quite a few different ways. So if you are hosting a party you can introduce these various shots and cocktails at your party and get a bunch of praise from your friends.

What is a Lemon Drop Shot?

Every cocktail is base alcohol, and in the case of lemon drop shots, vodka is the base. Other important elements are simple syrup, triple sec, and lemon juice. After experiencing the taste of this drink, some people also like to think of it as a new age variant of the very popular vodka martini.

As you know shots are usually consumed straight up, and you need to drink a lemon drop shot in the same way. If you are making a cocktail you can strain it and then serve it chilled with some ice cubes.

History of the Lemon Drop

Way back in the 1970s, a person named Norman Jay Hobday invented the lemon drop. Henry Africa’s bar, which is situated in San Francisco, was founded and is owned by Hobday.

The variants of lemon drop known among people are raspberry and blueberry lemon drops. Initially, at the time of its origin, the lemon drop was doled out in cocktail glasses.

The drink most likely was named after the lemon-flavored candy called lemon drop candy.  These candies are tiny in size, bright yellow in color, and made in the shape of lemons.

They have a very sour or sweet flavor, which is probably where the drink got its taste from as well. Saloons in San Francisco popularized this drink immediately after its release.

If you visit particular bars or restaurants in the United States, then you might find them serving these variants. Not just in the US though, you can find it in bars all over the world as well.

Back in the early 1990s, the lemon drop shooter was created and served in shot glasses. Shooters are fundamentally shots that are served in tiny glasses which have to be gulped down in one go.

In recent years, talking about 2006 here, the whole process of preparing lemon drop was shown on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Rachael Ray made it along with Oprah herself. Since then, anyone who did not previously know about the existence of this drink was made aware of the lemon drop.

And as the popularity increased, so did the experimentation with this drink. Owing to such developments, we now have so many varieties of a drink that was initially very basic and simple.

More About

The flavor of lemon drop is mostly a perfect blend of sweet and sour, with just tinge of lemon to make it a bit pungent. All these contrasting ingredients should mix in a way so that none overpowers any of the others.

Overall, a very balanced drink results. It is very important to know the quantity of the ingredients that you pour in, so that you do not end up with an overly sweet or sour drink. That would just spoil the whole spirit of the drink.

Now let’s learn what sort of vodka is used in the preparation of this drink. You must be aware that vodka also comes in different varieties. While some prefer plain vodka, some others might like it a bit flavored and go for citrus flavor vodka. For more lemony tang, some use lemon flavored vodka as well.

If you are an organically oriented person, then just use fresh lemons. Simply squeeze the juice out, and pour it in. I prefer using fresh lemon juice because the whole essence of the drink becomes a lot stronger, as compared to using packaged juice which has preservatives.

I have also seen some people making lemon drop prefer to use lemon juice prepared by Meyer lemons. So try that if you like.

A triple sec that is orange-flavored, also called Cointreau, is used by many to prepare lemon drop. Simple syrup that is imbued with some lemon juice is also sometimes used in the drink. A yellow-green mixer called sour mix is also preferred by some people.

This is a type of cocktail mixer.

You might also make use of pieces of citrus, like a wedge of lemon or lime, a wheel of fresh lemon, a twist of rind, etc. Some other ingredients you can tinker with are lavender, ginger syrup, and the like.

Basically, now you know that this is a very versatile sort of drink. If you keep the basic ingredients in place, you can a little something or other here and there according to how you and your guests like your drink. Mix and match! Experimenting is always the key to making interesting drinks and cocktails.

The best way to serve lemon shot is in a martini glass to make it look classy and stylish. And if you do the garnish right, then you are already a pro!

Adaptations of Lemon Drop

Who doesn’t like berries? Well, if you are a fan then you can go for something different by infusing raspberries or blueberries in your lemon drop. The basic constituents of vodka and other types of alcohol will remain the same, but you will just switch up the lemon juice.

Instead of lemon, you will be using raspberry or blueberry. Or you can use any type of berry alongside the lemon if you want. A muddler can come in very handy here, with which you can mash the berries after putting them in a glass so that all the juicy flavor comes out.

Cocktails are often centered on visual appeal. Make your lemon drop more appealing by bordering the rim of your glass with fine sugar and adding some food coloring to the drink. Garnishing is an art, so be creative. It makes the whole drinking experience a lot better.

If you are the host of a party where more than a few people are invited, then you should definitely make your lemon drop more colorful and attractive. For something fun, you can add rock candy or a twist of lemon peel to the martini glass.  Keep it classy and you will get all the attention and appraisal that you want as a host!

The serving process

Commonly, the lemon drop is made straight up. I know that some of you might not be familiar with what ‘straight up’ means. Don’t worry, I got you!

When you serve a lemon drop straight up, you have to shake it with some ice, strain it and then pour it in a stemmed glass, a martini glass for example. The rim of the glass can be lined with sugar. This might sound like the tricky part but it’s not very difficult.

You first have to dip the glass in water so that the rim is wet. Pour some powdered sugar on a flat tray and then place the glass upside down on the tray. When you turn it over, you will see that the rim is finely covered with the powdered sugar.

If you are wondering what sort of sugar to use for this purpose, then you can go to a store and ask for ultrafine sugar, caster sugar, bar sugar, or castor sugar. All of these are synonymous with finely grounded sugar and will easily stick to the rim of your glass.

The twin drink

While the lemon drop is a drink that is vodka based, the Moon River is a drink where the basic ingredient is gin. This drink is considered to be very similar to the lemon drop and I personally like calling it the twin of the lemon drop.

The Moon River is also a cocktail that is supposed to be served in a cocktail glass. The common garnish for this drink is a cocktail cherry.

Nice Variations and Preparation

Why go out and spend a lot on one single lemon drop cocktail when you can make a bunch of homemade lemon shot drinks all by yourself? But how you may ask? I am happy to help. I feel that this drink is very low maintenance by nature and this is one of the prime reasons why I love it.

The lemon drop shot ingredients you need are easily available because they are all commonly found bar ingredients. Similarly, the recipes are easy to understand so that anyone can make them at home. I will share some popular recipes for you:

Lemon Drop Martini Classic


  • ½ oz of Triple Sec
  • 1 ½ oz of vodka
  • ¾ oz of freshly squeezed lemon juice. You can use sweet and sour mix if you like.
  • 1 tea spoon of ultrafine sugar which you will use to rim your glass.


  • A very important step that most people forget is to place their martini glasses in a refrigerator beforehand so that they are chilled.
  • Turn the glass over onto a plate where you have poured the ultrafine sugar.
  • Carefully place a finely cut wedge of lemon on the side of the glass.
  • Once this serving part is done, mix the ingredients in a shaker.
  • Put some ice as well.
  • When the ingredients are blended well, pour them into the glass.
  • You can put in a twist of lemon peel if you want. This is not a necessary ingredient though.

If you do not like too much lemon, then you can replace it with any other sort of fruit from the citrus family. Some options are grapefruit, lime, blood orange, orange, etc.

Plain Lemon Drop Martini

The recipe that I have mentioned above is undoubtedly, one of the hottest in bars. But some might find it too sweet for their taste or too much like candy. If you do not have a sweet tooth then you can try a plain lemon drop martini.


  • 2 oz of plain vodka or citrus vodka
  • ¾ oz of freshly extracted lemon juice
  • 1 cube of sugar or you may add another cube if you want it a bit sweeter


  • When you have all the ingredients at your disposal, then sugarcoat the rim of your martini glass, just like the way I described in the previous recipe.
  • Then pop the sugar cube into the glass. A sugar cube might be too fancy for some. If so you can use 1 tsp of sugar instead.
  • Put the vodka and the lemon juice in the shaker and shake with ice until it is chilled.
  • Then pour the mixture into the glass carefully so as not to mess up the rim.
  • You have the choice of garnishing the drink with a twist of lemon peel or just a hint of lemon zest.

You can also mint it up and go the Oprah Winfrey way! Otherwise you can use ½ oz simple syrup that is soused with ginger, lemongrass, or any other kind of fresh herbs that you like.  Use an herb that you feel will go well with the lemon and enhance the overall essence of the drink.

Berry Lemon Drop Martini

The choices are many for a lemon drop with a fruity twist. I can just go on and on with the recipes. For this one, all you have to do is choose whatever type of berry you like and substitute it into the recipe given below.

Some of my personal favorites are cranberry, strawberry, blueberry, pomegranate, raspberry, and cherry. I know that pomegranate is not a berry, but it goes pretty well with the whole combination.


  • 1 ½ oz of any vodka that is berry flavored
  • 1 ½ oz of fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz of simple syrup or you can substitute this with 1 tsp of sugar
  • Some berry juice according to your taste
  • If you cannot find berry juice then you can also go with grenadine or even Chambord which is a sort of raspberry-flavored liquor.


  • You know by now about how to garnish your glass with a lemon twist and some superfine sugar. You can also just add some crushed berries to the glass.
  • Otherwise, you can stick some whole berries onto a pick and put it into the glass. This will make your drink look attractive, and then they can be munched on at the end when they are sufficiently saturated with the drink, which is very satisfying.
  • Or for an even easier idea, just pop the berries into the glass by themselves and they will float on the surface of the drink. When you are done with the drink, you slurp up those juicy berries!

3 Lemon Drop Shot Recipes for Your Satisfaction

To switch it up, make a shooter by adding the same amount of vodka and lemon juice into a shot glass. You may or may not add a rim of sugar. If you do not want to put it on the rim, then just add the sugar to the bottom of the glass.

This can be done in any of the recipes that I have given so far. Whatever you do, instead of having plain and simple vodka shots at your house party, spice it up a bit with lemon drop shooters.

Lemon Drop Jell-O Shot

The Lemon Drop Jell-O Shot is only for those who really love their drinks and don’t mind putting some love and care into them.


  • 2 packets of lemon Jell-O, 3oz  each
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 1 cup of citrus vodka
  • 1/2 cup of freshly extracted lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of chilled water


  • Pour the Jell-O into the boiling water and stir until it gets dissolved.
  • Pour a bit of cold water and then pour in the citrus vodka and the fresh lemon juice.
  • Keep stirring until the mixture cools off.
  • Pour the mixture into the shot glasses.
  • Chill them in the freezer.
  • Once they are solid, you can serve them to your guests!

If you want to snaz up your drink a bit, then use soufflé cups instead of using normal shotglasses. This will make your shots resemble lemon wedges. In order to do this, you have to slice 8 lemons into half and scrape the lemon until they are free of pulp.

Put the hollow halves into a muffin tin facing up. After you have prepared the mixture like I instructed earlier, put the mixture into these hollow halves. Place the tin in the refrigerator and let it chill.

Once they are solid, slice each lemon half into three equal pieces.  Voilà! You have shots that look like wedges of lemon.

Flaming Lemon Drop Shot

I will now present one of my all time favorites—the flaming lemon drop shot. Here is what you need:

  • 1/2 oz of lemon-flavored vodka
  • 1 splatter of Galliano® herbal liqueur that you will find at any good store
  • 1/4 tsp of 151-proof rum
  • 1/4 of tsp sugar
  • Slices of lemon cut into 1/8 in a round shape

Now that we have everything ready, let us begin with the preparation:

  • Take a shot glass and put the lemon vodka into it.
  • Then add a dash of the herbal liqueur
  • Carefully place the round of lemon in the glass in a flat position, like the way you would place a lid.
  • Add the sugar and then add the 151-proof rum on the piece of lemon
  • Just when you are ready to drink it, light up the sugar
  • When you see that the sugar has turned light brown, then blow the flame out.

You should know the perfect way to actually drink this flaming drink as well. First lick off the sugar from the lemon and then gulp it down in one shot. Don’t forget to suck the lemon slice at the end to neutralize the alcohol.

Sparkling Lemon Drop Punch


  • A bottle of good Champagne
  • Juice squeezed out from three whole lemons
  • ¾ cup of good quality vodka
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ½ cup of water


  • Strain the pulp out of the lemon and keep the juice aside.
  • Warm the sugar and the water in a small utensil. Do not keep the flame high.
  • Keep stirring the mixture until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  • Boil the whole mixture.
  • Remove the utensil from the heat and let it cool.
  • Take a pitcher or a large bowl, preferably a punch bowl, and add the champagne, vodka, and the lemon juice.
  • Its up to you whether you want to rim the glass with powdered sugar or you just want to use a wedge of lemon on the rim.

Phew! We are done with all the recipes at the top of my list. If you are a diehard fan of lemon drop  like me then you won’t ever get enough of them.

My suggestion is to keep experimenting and even look into desserts like Lemon drop cheesecake, Lemon drop Sorbet, etc. I hope you like these recipes and try some variation of your own. And remember, drink responsibly! Good luck!


Peter's path through the culinary world has taken a number of unexpected turns. After starting out as a waiter at the age of 16, he was inspired to go to culinary school and learn the tricks of the trade. As he delved deeper, however, his career took a sudden turn when a family friend needed someone to help manage his business. Peter now scratches his culinary itch on the internet by blogging, sharing recipes, and socializing with food enthusiasts worldwide.

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