Drink of the Week: Lemon Drop

By Paul Nelson

Every Sunday evening we host happy hour for some of the college students and recent college grads in the area. It’s an informal event – as a happy hour should be. We make popcorn, put out chips and crackers and veggies and home-made ranch dressing, slice up some salami and incorporate whatever else we have on hand or someone brings. We spend a few hours just chatting. Sometimes it’s theological. Sometimes it’s personal – helping young people find their way to surer footing after the break-up of a long-term relationship or praying with them as they struggle to find employment options and make decisions for their future. Some of the regulars are very gifted musically, and the guitar(s) come out or the piano tinkles and people are singing. 

I ask people what they want and they often don’t know. They haven’t experimented enough to have settled on a particular drink they like.  Usually they like to try something new and different. Those are potential landmines for a bad bartender, but wonderful opportunities for a good bartender, and the more experience you have the better the opportunities become! If they don’t have a request immediately, I ask them some basic questions. Do you have a preferred liquor (whiskey, rum, vodka, tequila, gin)?  Are you in the mood for sweet, salty,  or sour? Is there anything you don’t like?  Based on the answers to those questions I can usually think of or research a good option fairly quickly.

Following up on last week’s theme of using citrus, another go-to favorite cocktail of mine is the Lemon Drop. Done well, it’s a wonderful blending of sweet and sour. It’s light and refreshing – very summery but enjoyable any time of the year in my opinion. The recipe is easy and I’ve yet to find someone that doesn’t like it. It can also be easily adjusted slightly to meet requests for a sweeter or more sour drink.

  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1 oz limoncello
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • sugar
  • lemon slice for garnish
  • ice

Pour the first three ingredients into a shaker with ice or stir them vigorously in a glass with ice.  Taste at this point to determine if you want to adjust the balance at all. Limoncello is a liquor that originated in southern Italy consisting of a neutral spirit infused with lemon zest and peel.  This results in a yellowish-fluid that is mixed with simple syrup and bottled. Because it’s easy to make, lots of people make it themselves at home.

Traditionally this is served in a martini glass, but a margarita glass works well also. Moisten the rim of the glass with lemon and then rim it with sugar. I like to serve this over ice, though it is often served straight up.  Either way, pour the shaken ingredients into the glass. I like to float a very thin slice of lemon over the top of it for presentation.  Enjoy!