When Life Hands You Lemons…


You shake those babies up!

The Lemon Drop martini is one of those wonderful sweet and sour bevvies that is perfect for a hot summer day. Even though we’re slipping into fall, I don’t think anyone will argue that a lemony libation is out of season.

The best Lemon Drop we’ve had in a restaurant was at Bogey’s at the Hotel DeFuniak–a quaint little B&B (they still used actual keys when we were last there) with a room that is supposedly haunted. (If I’d only known that when I made our reservation I’d have requested that one, instead!) Todd won the drink order*, that night, and I wrote down the menu description for later experimentation. Others have been ordered since then at various places but none have lived up.

Until now, though, the best Lemon Drop we’ve had at home came–I’m almost ashamed to say–from a mix. Almost ashamed but not quite, as the mix was truly exceptional: the Lavendar Lemonade Martini mix from ModMix. Fully organic and incredibly tasty, we mixed them with Vanilla Vodka and a good time was had by all.

Now, though, I want to branch out and create our own home version, not from a mix, and using the wonderful things we’ve learned since first encountering the Bogey’s Lemon Drop.

Lusty Lemon Drop

Research first, I was dismayed at recipes that merely called for Lemon Vodka and a little bit of sugar. 1 ingredient does not a cocktail make, my friends. And to those who claimed any orange liqueur would do, I submit that a Lemon Drop made with Triple Sec would be vastly inferior to one made with Cointreau. (I feel like I need a say-no-to-Triple Sec graphic every time I have to make this point.)

Actually, I was surprised at how many recipes I previews called for the dreaded Triple Sec–it’s the cheap and easy sister everyone expected so much of but who never lives up to her potential. At some point, you have to face facts that she’s just not interested in change.

Oh, wait, that’s a different kind of tart.

A Lemon Drop is very simple in essence: vodka, lemon juice, sugar. But I had a very specific set of ingredients in mind for our Lemon Drop. I knew we’d use Vanilla Vodka (again, our favorite of late is from 360 Vodka) and, in addition to fresh lemon juice, some of our homemade Limoncello for added smoothness.

But what else? The Lavender Lemon Drop had that nice little something extra, what would put this one over the top?

Then it hit me. When I was trying out the Green Angel cocktail for this week’s AGWA de Bolivia review, the basil mixed so well with the Limoncello, I wanted to try it again. And with the idea to combine lemon zest with the rimming sugar borrowed from Inspired Taste, we were all set to try it out. All that was left was to fiddle with proportions!

Lusty Lemon Drop

3-5 Basil Leaves, depending on the size
1 oz Limoncello
2 oz Vanilla Vodka
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Sugar, Basil and Lemon zest for garnish

In the mixing glass of a Boston shaker, muddle the basil and Limoncello together just enough to break up the leaves a bit but not so much that they’re torn to smithereens.  Add ice, the vanilla vodka, lemon juice and simple syrup and shake like you just can’t wait. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with lemon-sugar and enjoy.

Dipping a moistened basil leaf into the lemon sugar makes a great additional garnish.

Basil, in herbal lore, corresponds to love and passion, hence the name.

The homemade sour mix (equal parts lemon juice and simple syrup) tones down the somewhat cloying–but in the best possible sense of the word–nature of the Limoncello and Vanilla Vodka. And the basil? Oh, man, the basil adds a sweet scent and a touch of something to the flavor that, if you didn’t know it was basil you wouldn’t know what it was but you’d know you like it. I suppose this cocktail is a bit like art, in that respect. Either way you slice it, this is a passionate drink, one you’d want to drown in… except for the fact that if you were to depart this mortal coil you wouldn’t be able to make and enjoy another one!

*We have an unofficial contest every time we go out where we sample each other’s drinks and, sometimes, when one clearly surpasses the other, that person wins.

Bogey’s Bar & Restaurant, Defuniak Springs, FL


As part of our impromptu weekend away to visit the local winery and stock up on some favorites, Todd and I enjoyed a night at the Hotel Defuniak and dinner at their on-site restaurant: Bogey’s.

In the looks department, the restaurant is decorated very nicely, lots of sage green with white trim, draped windows and framed black-and-white images from the movie Casablanca. This was a nice touch since it’s one of Todd’s favorite films. The lights are kept fairly low for dinner and there’s a small dance floor across from which the Saturday-evening entertainment performs.

Like most places these days they have a well-arrayed martini list. My Pomegranate Martini was, unfortunately, all alcohol, no juice but I’m sure that’s how a lot of people like it. I just prefer mine tempered a bit. Todd’s Lemon Drop Martini, in contrast, was amazingly good: Citron Vodka, Grand Marnier and sour mix. I think, though, when I work on recreating it I’ll try it with lemon juice and a splash of simple syrup instead. Another interesting cocktail that we didn’t try, but that I took notes of from the menu, was the Pineapple Upside Down (vanilla vodka, butterscotch schnapps, pineapple juice and a splash of cola)–doesn’t that sound just too good? They also featured a pretty long wine list but, surprisingly, none of the wines they offered came from the local winery, not even a token bottle.

The dinner menu is pretty varied running the gamut from steak to seafood to chicken and veal. From the brief appetizer offerings we tried the Oysters Rockefeller and the Spinach and Artichoke Dip, both were tasty, portions were definitely not meant for sharing but it was a nice taste while we waited for our entrees. And speaking of entrees, Todd’s always in the mood for veal so he ordered the Veal Restauranteur (topped with ham, tomatoes and cheese) while I ordered the Catch of the Day Lorenzo (with Blue Crab stuffing and a bernaise sauce). Whereas the appetizers may have been of modest size, the entrees were more than generous.

You know, I had a dream the other night about an upscale restaurant that featured entrees at true portion sizes–talk about a dream! Inflated portion sizes aside, the taste couldn’t have been better. Both of our meals were well-seasoned, well sauced and perfectly prepared. They do have a dessert menu but I honestly don’t remember much about it–I was way too full to even think about dessert. Todd got something very chocolatey a la mode that I had a couple of bites of but that was it.

Bogey’s offers breakfast and lunch, as well, at least on certain days. It’s not unusual for restaurants to close on Mondays and, even, to have abbreviated Sunday hours but I have to admit I was a little puzzled that a hotel that bills itself as a Bed & Breakfast offers only a Continental breakfast on both Mondays and Sundays. Sundays, really? Sure, Sunday night isn’t a big travel night, most people head home that day so going Continental on Monday is probably not a big deal. But Saturday night? I would think that’s a fairly busy time for overnight guests so not offering a hot breakfast on Sunday morning seems really alien to me.

We’ll definitely go back–there’s a room that’s supposedly haunted that I want to check out, after all–but I guess we’ll have to go over after work on a Friday to try out their true breakfast.