Lemon Drop Shot

Lemon Drop Shot: A Classic Cocktail

The Lemon Drop Shot, a delightful blend of sweet and sour flavors, is a classic cocktail that has been a staple in bars and parties for decades. This delicious drink is perfect for those who enjoy a refreshing and zesty kick to their cocktails. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the origins of the Lemon Drop Shot, its ingredients, and variations, as well as tips for making the perfect Lemon Drop Shot at home. So, let’s dive into the world of this citrusy sensation and learn everything there is to know about the Lemon Drop Shot.

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1. The Origins of the Lemon Drop Shot

The Lemon Drop Shot traces its roots back to the 1970s when it first gained popularity in the United States. The cocktail was allegedly created by Norman Jay Hobday, the owner of a popular San Francisco bar called Henry Africa’s. Hobday wanted to create a drink that was both sweet and sour, capturing the essence of the classic lemon drop candy. The result was the Lemon Drop Shot, which quickly became a fan favorite and spread to bars and parties across the country.

2. Ingredients and Preparation

The Lemon Drop Shot is a simple and straightforward cocktail that only requires a few key ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to make a classic Lemon Drop Shot:

  • Vodka
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Simple syrup
  • Ice
  • Sugar (for rimming the glass)
  • Lemon wedge (for garnish)


  1. Start by rimming the shot glass with sugar. To do this, rub the rim of the glass with a lemon wedge and then dip the rim in sugar.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Fill the shaker with ice and shake well until the mixture is well-chilled and combined.
  3. Strain the mixture into the sugar-rimmed shot glass.
  4. Garnish with a lemon wedge and serve immediately.

3. Lemon Drop Shot Variations

While the classic Lemon Drop Shot is a timeless favorite, there are plenty of variations that can add a unique twist to this zesty cocktail. Here are some popular Lemon Drop Shot variations to try:

Raspberry Lemon Drop Shot

For a fruity twist on the classic Lemon Drop Shot, try adding raspberry liqueur to the mix. Replace half of the vodka with raspberry liqueur and follow the same preparation steps as the classic recipe.

Spicy Lemon Drop Shot

Looking for a little heat? Add a pinch of cayenne pepper to the cocktail shaker along with the other ingredients. The spicy kick will give your Lemon Drop Shot an exciting new dimension.

Herb-infused Lemon Drop Shot

Infuse your vodka with fresh herbs like basil, mint, or thyme for a refreshing, botanical twist on the traditional Lemon Drop Shot.

4. Pairing Suggestions

Lemon Drop Shots are a versatile cocktail that pairs well with a variety of dishes. Here are some pairing suggestions to consider when serving Lemon Drop Shots:

  • Seafood dishes, such as shrimp cocktail or grilled fish, complement the zesty citrus flavors of the Lemon Drop Shot.
  • Light salads with vinaigrette dressings can help cut through the sweetness of the cocktail and create a balanced dining experience.
  • Fried appetizers, such as calamari or onion rings, pair well with the refreshing Lemon Drop Shot, as the acidity helps to cleanse the palate.
  • Lemon or citrus-based desserts, like lemon bars or citrus sorbet, can enhance the overall lemon theme of your meal.

5. Tips for the Perfect Lemon Drop Shot

To ensure your Lemon Drop Shot is top-notch, keep these helpful tips in mind:

  • Use fresh lemon juice instead of bottled, as this will yield a superior flavor.
  • Experiment with different vodka brands to find the one that best suits your taste preferences.
  • Adjust the ratio of vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup to find the perfect balance of sweet and sour for your palate.
  • Chill your shot glasses in the freezer before serving to keep your Lemon Drop Shot extra cold.

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6. Serving and Presentation

Presentation is key when it comes to impressing your guests with a Lemon Drop Shot. Here are some ideas to elevate your Lemon Drop Shot presentation:

  • Use a variety of shot glass styles to add visual interest to your serving tray.
  • Place a small lemon wheel or twist on the rim of the glass for an extra touch of elegance.
  • Experiment with colored sugar or flavored sugars for rimming the glass to add an extra layer of flavor and visual appeal.
  • Arrange your Lemon Drop Shots on a decorative tray with fresh lemon wedges or other citrus fruits as a centerpiece.

7. Alcohol-free Lemon Drop Shot Options

For those who prefer a non-alcoholic version of the Lemon Drop Shot, there are plenty of options available. Here are a couple of easy alcohol-free Lemon Drop Shot recipes to try:

Lemon Drop Mocktail

  • Lemon juice
  • Simple syrup
  • Sparkling water
  • Ice
  • Sugar (for rimming the glass)
  • Lemon wedge (for garnish)

Follow the same preparation steps as the classic Lemon Drop Shot, replacing the vodka with sparkling water.

Lemon Drop Soda

  • Lemon juice
  • Simple syrup
  • Club soda
  • Ice
  • Sugar (for rimming the glass)
  • Lemon wedge (for garnish)

Combine the lemon juice and simple syrup in a glass, then top off with club soda. Stir gently to combine, then rim the glass with sugar and garnish with a lemon wedge.

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8. Popular Lemon Drop Shot Recipes

In addition to the classic recipe and variations mentioned earlier, there are several other popular Lemon Drop Shot recipes worth trying:

Blueberry Lemon Drop Shot

  • Vodka
  • Blueberry syrup
  • Lemon juice
  • Simple syrup
  • Ice
  • Sugar (for rimming the glass)

Combine the vodka, blueberry syrup, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well, then strain into a sugar-rimmed shot glass.

Limoncello Lemon Drop Shot

  • Limoncello
  • Vodka
  • Lemon juice
  • Simple syrup
  • Ice
  • Sugar (for rimming the glass)

Combine equal parts Limoncello, vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well, then strain into a sugar-rimmed shot glass.

9. Lemon Drop Shot FAQs

Q: Can I use a different type of alcohol in my Lemon Drop Shot?

A: While vodka is the traditional choice for a Lemon Drop Shot, feel free to experiment with other spirits, such as gin or tequila, to create your own unique twist on the classic cocktail.

Q: How do I make my own simple syrup?

A: Simple syrup is easy to make at home. Combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan, then heat until the sugar dissolves completely. Allow the syrup to cool before using it in your Lemon Drop Shot.

Q: Can I make a large batch of Lemon Drop Shots for a party?

A: Absolutely! Simply multiply the recipe to accommodate the number of guests you’ll be serving. You can mix the ingredients in a pitcher or punch bowl and then pour individual shots as needed.

10. Conclusion

The Lemon Drop Shot is a timeless classic that has delighted cocktail enthusiasts for decades. With its simple ingredients, easy preparation, and versatile variations, it’s no wonder that the Lemon Drop Shot continues to be a popular choice for both home mixologists and professional bartenders alike. Whether you’re trying the classic recipe or experimenting with unique twists, the Lemon Drop Shot is sure to be a hit at your next gathering. Cheers!

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