Weekend Cocktail: The Lemon Drop

Weekend Cocktail: The Lemon Drop

A wise, fictional man once said that clear alcohols are for rich women on diets. While I obviously disagree with this bit of wisdom when it comes to gin, my position on vodka aligned rather perfectly with his. I never saw the point, once I hit the 10th grade, of continuing to pour tasteless Russian swill down my impressionable throat.

Recently, it was put to me that I needed to broaden my horizons somewhat when it comes to matters bibulous. I pride myself on receiving correction in the spirit with which it was intended, and so resolved to embark on a program of Vodka Appreciation.

I’m hesitant to admit that I have a blind spot when it comes to booze – not really a smart move when one is called upon to write drink recommendations for other people – but I’m willing to admit now that I have not been entirely fair to vodka. I need to check my liquor privilege and celebrate the diversity of the drinking world more fully.

For my effort at self-improvement to have a chance of success, I knew I would have to tap into the network of drunks and aficionados that exist on Twitter.  Before delving too deeply into the nuances of vodka made from potato, grain, or jet fuel, I thought I’d start with a cocktail. Those refined souls on the Internet did not fail me, and came up with what I think may be a perfect jumping-off point.

The Lemon Drop

In case I haven’t made my heretofore-appalling lack of regard for vodka clear enough, I always thought that a Lemon Drop was a tequila shooter. How wrong I was. This cocktail is a neat little number that offers some surprising depth of flavor.  To make one, you’ll need:

  • 2 oz Grey Goose or Tito’s vodka
  • ½ oz Triple Sec
  • 1 tsp super fine sugar
  • ¾ oz fresh lemon juice
  • A lemon peel for garnish
  • A few drops of Fee Brothers grapefruit bitters

Shake the ingredients over ice until cold. Rim a martini glass with lemon and dip it into the sugar. Pour into the glass, garnish with a lemon twist and voila! You have in your hand a tasty and presentable cocktail sure to garner thanks and praise from various and sundry.

The recipe I was given called for adding a teaspoon of sugar to the mix and shaking it, but I opted to leave it out for a slightly less sweet version. The frosted rim did the trick for me. This left it with a bit more taste of the alcohol and lemon tartness. However, both methods are worth trying to determine your preference. If your tastes run even less sweet, you can also substitute the triple sec for Cointreau.

As an aside, the baker in my life gave me a crash course on the difference between powdered sugar and super fine. My first attempt, using the powdered sugar, was an awful mess. If all you have is regular granulated sugar, a few spins in a handy coffee grinder will reduce the grains to a suitable size. They will adhere to the glass in much more attractive fashion.

I found this drink reminded me of a less syrupy limoncello, but the addition of the grapefruit bitters gave it an added complexity that kept it interesting from the first sip to the last – not something that I, an admittedly prejudiced fellow, expected of a vodka drink.

Going forward, I expect that when presented with a choice between vodka and gin I will now have a much harder time making my decision. Entire sections of the menu have been opened to me. The condescension and snobbery I exhibited was only holding me back. I know this now. Thankfully, I learned my lesson early enough in life to thoroughly explore other methods of enjoying this adaptable spirit.

Follow Neal on Twitter.

Neal Dewing lives and works in Portsmouth, Virginia. He is the co-host of The Fifth Estate, a podcast examining culture and politics.
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