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Looking down on lemon drop cocktail, next to lemon peel strips.

Lemon Drop Shot & Martini Recipe

Whether sipped from a martini glass, straight up as a shot or spritzed up with a little club soda, the lemon drop is the quintessential citrus cocktail.  It's easy for the home mixologist and perfect for when wine or beer just won't do!

The measurements below serve one drink. Use the scale buttons to double or triple the recipe for two or three drinks. 

  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 Lemon Drop 1x



For Simple Syrup

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water or pure lemon juice
  • rind of one lemon, white pith sliced away, optional

For a Shot

  •   shot of vodka (just eyeball ⅔ of the way up the shot measure, or 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon)
  • ½ shot or 1 tablespoon of fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ ounce of 1 scant teaspoon of simple syrup
  • granulated sugar, for rimming glasses
  • thin strips of lemon peel, white pith removed

For a Martini

  • 2 shots or ¼ cup of vodka
  • ½ shot or 1 tablespoon of orange liqueur, such as Triple Sec or Cointreau
  • 1 shot or 2 tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ shot or 1 tablespoon of simple syrup
  • granulated sugar, for rimming glasses
  • thin strips of lemon peel, white pith removed

Virgin Lemon Drop Martini

  • 2 shots or ¼ cup of fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 shot or 2 tablespoons of fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon of simple syrup
  • club soda or lemon sparkling water
  • a thin strip of lemon peel, for garnish
  • granulated sugar, for rimming the glass


For Simple Syrup

  1. In a small pot combine the water or lemon juice and granulated sugar and bring it just to a boil. You can add strips of lemon peel for more flavor. 
  2. Once the syrup boils, stir it briefly, turn off the heat, and pour it into a heat-proof container. For added lemon flavor, let the syrup cool in the pot with the lemon peel submerged.
  3. Store the syrup in the refrigerator for up to a couple of weeks. You can remove or leave the lemon peel in the syrup, it's up to you.

For Lemon Peel Garnish

  1. For an easy lemon peel garnish, use a vegetable peeler to remove the rind off of one lemon. You should end up with a few strips that are an inch or more wide.
  2. Remove any remaining white pith by laying the strips flat on a cutting board, outer-side down. Carefully slice horizontally with a knife to remove the bitter pith.
  3. Once all the white pith is removed, slice each larger strip of lemon peel into thin strips about a quarter of an inch wide. There's no need to trim the length of the strips.
  4. Store leftover garnish in the refrigerator.

To Rim a Glass

  1. Spread a thin layer of granulated sugar on a small plate.
  2. Run a lemon wedge or a damp towel around the rim of your glass.
  3. Dip the rim of your glass in the sugar and set it aside while you shake the cocktail.

For the Cocktail

  1. Combine all of the liquor, liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup, and a good helping of ice in a cocktail shaker. 
  2. Seal with the lid and shake until the shaker frosts over.
  3. Strain the shot or martini into your rimmed glass. For a lemon drop spritzer, top a martini with a couple of splashes of club soda, lemon sparkling water, or even brut champagne or sparkling wine.


The amount of sugar or simple syrup in any cocktail is up to you. If you prefer a less sweet cocktail or are watching your sugar intake, cut out the simple syrup, or use less.

For Lemon Sugar

For even more lemon zing, you can add grated lemon zest to the sugar you use to rim the glasses. Simply use a microplane grater or a box grater on the smallest holes to grate the peel off of one lemon. Then mix the zest with about half of a cup of sugar and use it to rim the glasses. 

Low-Carb or Keto

If you eat a low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet, leave the simple syrup out of this one. The orange liqueur itself comes with seven grams of sugar, so there will still be plenty of sweetness. For even less sugar, ditch the triple sec and replace it with a shot (or two tablespoons) of fresh-squeezed or cold-pressed orange juice.

Lemon Drop with Limoncello

Limoncello is a sweet, syrupy lemon liqueur that Italians sip after a meal as a digestif. For a lemon drop martini, I like to replace the triple sec with two shots of limoncello and cut the vodka back to one shot. 

Nutrition Information

The Nutrition Information below is for one lemon drop martini per the recipe above. It doesn't include any sugar you use to rim the glasses. 

  • Author: Christina
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes (mostly inactive)
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Drinks
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 271
  • Sugar: 20.3 g
  • Sodium: 2.4 mg
  • Fat: 0.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 21.6 g
  • Protein: 0.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: lemon drop shot recipe, lemon drop with limoncello, lemon cocktails, lemon drop without alcohol