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Lemon Drop

Want to drink a piece of history? The Lemon Drop is the place to start.

Lemon Drop cocktail

This cocktail has its roots, like many, in Prohibition-era America, but there’s a lot more to it.

When you make it, you can take pride in knowing you’re drinking something that’s shaped drinking culture, and the wider culture of America, since its inception. Keep reading to learn more and get the best recipe.


When Prohibition came along, the traffic to local bars and pubs dried up. Anyone who owned such an establishment had just three choices: learn a new profession, move to another country, or run an illegal business.

lemon drop cocktails with lemon twists garnish

Illegal businesses tend to be much less picky about who they let in, so suddenly, women were not just permitted to enter but positively encouraged to do so.

The glorious co-mingling of the sexes that prevailed during Prohibition dried up once things we back to “normal.” It turned out that lots of women preferred to drink at home, with friends, instead of with strangers in dark bars, and bar culture slowly shifted back to a male-only environment.

That all changed in San Francisco when Henry Africa of the Fern Bar deliberately designed a clean, comfortable, bright, and aesthetic gathering place and started actively trying to draw women in.

Africa saw a lot of commerce was to be had by attracting young, single people of both sexes and giving them a safe place to meet and mingle. Henry Africa not only marketed to women through the design of his bar but also by adapting cocktails popular with men to flavors preferred by women. That’s how he came up with the lemon drop!

The Recipe

Lemon Drop Cocktail

The lemon drop is a classic cocktail recipe. Why not make one tonight?
Keyword Lemon Drop, Martini, Vodka
Prep Time 3 minutes
Servings 1
Author Paul Kushner


  • 1 ½ Ounces Vodka
  • ¾ Ounce Cointreau
  • ¾ Ounce Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Simple Syrup


  • Shake these in a cocktail shaker and then strain them over ice.
  • Garnish the glass with a rim of sugar.


Just remember: when the drink is this simple, nothing matters more than the quality of the ingredients. Don’t use this to hide inferior additives: use a top-shelf vodka, fresh lemons rather than juice, and a homemade simple syrup for the best results.


Bored with the classic?

  • Try upping the lemon juice, using straight, superfine sugar instead of syrup, or using a fruity gin instead of vodka.
  • A half-ounce of limoncello will give it extra sweetness, but also more lemon flavor.
  • Try adding a floral simple syrup, like lavender, for an interesting twist.

The lemon drop is a classic. Why not make one tonight?


What’s a lemon drop made of?

The Lemon Drop cocktail is made of lemon juice, vodka, orange liqueur, and simple syrup for a touch of sweetness!

Why are they called lemon drops?

The Lemon Drop cocktail was named after a Lemon Drop candy, which was a sweet and sour lemon candy.

Are lemon drop shots the same as lemon drop cocktails?

Lemon drop shots are very similar to lemon drop cocktails, although the recipe is slightly different.

Lemon drop shots are made with just lemon juice, vodka, and sugar or simple syrup. The cocktail includes Cointreau or another orange liqueur.

Lemon Drop
Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

Written by Paul Kushner

I have always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. My restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time I turned 17 I was serving tables, and by 19 I was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, I opened my first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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