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What’s a Lemon Drop made of?

The Lemon Drop is a popular lemon flavored cocktail that has been around since the 1950s. It’s a simple drink made from just a few ingredients, but it packs a refreshing, sweet-tart lemon punch. In this article, we’ll explore the main components that go into making a Lemon Drop drink and provide the recipe so you can make one at home. We’ll also go over some variations on the classic version as well as tips for getting the perfect balance of sweet and sour. Let’s dive in and learn all about this zesty cocktail!

What are the main ingredients in a Lemon Drop?

A traditional Lemon Drop contains just 3 key ingredients:


Vodka forms the alcoholic base of the Lemon Drop. As a neutral spirit, the vodka allows the bright lemon flavors to take center stage. Standard 80 proof (40% ABV) vodka is most commonly used. Citrus flavored vodkas can also be substituted to amplify the lemon taste.

Fresh lemon juice

Fresh squeezed lemon juice provides the namesake lemon flavor. Using freshly squeezed juice is vital for maximizing the citrus flavor. Bottled, store-bought lemon juice lacks the vibrant aromatic qualities of fresh squeezed juice.

Simple syrup

Simple syrup is composed of equal parts sugar and water dissolved together. The sweetness of the simple syrup balances out the tartness of the lemon juice. Simple syrup can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to use.

Complete Lemon Drop Recipe

Now that we’ve covered the key components, here is a recipe to make one standard Lemon Drop drink:


  • 1.5 oz (1 shot) vodka
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • .75 oz simple syrup
  • Lemon wedge or twist for garnish


  1. Fill a shaker with ice cubes.
  2. Pour in the vodka, lemon juice and simple syrup.
  3. Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds until well chilled.
  4. Strain into a chilled martini glass or coupe.
  5. Garnish with a lemon wedge or twist.

The general guidelines are 1 part vodka, 2/3 part lemon juice, and 1/2 part simple syrup. Adjust the ratios to taste if you prefer more sweet or sour flavor. Shake vigorously with ice and fine strain into a chilled glass to get a clear, frothy cocktail. Garnish with a lemon wedge or twist.


While the vodka-lemon juice-simple syrup combo is the standard, there are many riffs on the Lemon Drop that add new dimensions. Here are some popular variations:

Sugar rim

Wet the outer rim of the glass and dip into sugar before straining the cocktail into the glass. Provides a sweet sugar crunch contrast to the tart drink.

Citrus vodka

Use lemon, orange, or citron flavored vodka for a more intensely citrusy flavor.

Herb infusions

Steep herbs like basil, thyme, or rosemary in the simple syrup to add herbal nuance.

Cranberry Lemon Drop

Add .5 oz cranberry juice for a tart sweetness.

Apple Cider Lemon Drop

Substitute apple cider for the simple syrup for a Fall twist.

Blueberry Lemon Drop

Muddle 5 blueberries with the lemon juice and shake.

Tips for the Perfect Lemon Drop

Here are some key tips for nailing the perfect balance in your Lemon Drop:

  • Use fresh lemon juice for maximum flavor – never bottled juice.
  • Chill the glass before pouring.
  • Shake vigorously with ice to get it frothy and cold.
  • Fine strain for a clear, sediment-free pour.
  • Start with equal parts lemon and simple syrup. Adjust to taste.
  • Use high quality vodka for a smooth sip.


With its short ingredient list and approximated 1:1:1 ratio of vodka, lemon juice and simple syrup, the Lemon Drop is one of the simplest yet tastiest vodka cocktails around. It’s balance of sweet and sour captured in a lemony package makes it the perfect refreshing sipper. Just remember fresh juice and a good shaking with ice is essential. And feel free to play around with different flavor variations. The next time you crave a zesty citrus cocktail, reach for a smooth and punchy Lemon Drop.