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.