Technically, Your Lemon Drop Cocktail Isn't A True Martini. Here's Why

There's nothing quite like a lemon drop martini. These sweet citrus cocktails were invented at San Francisco's original fern bar; however, if you are a true martini aficionado, you probably know a lemon drop is not a true martini. Sure, it's served in a sophisticated martini glass, but it lacks a specific ingredient needed to claim the moniker of "martini." While it might contain vodka, a lemon drop martini lacks vermouth, which is absolutely required for a vodka martini to be a martini. Vermouth is a fortified wine that when added to vodka, imparts mild herbal notes to your drink. Sometimes, you might even be inclined to upgrade your martini game with flavored vermouth; however, a lemon drop martini is not a drink to add it to. 

So what makes a lemon drop a lemon drop? If you are new to this drink, a lemon drop is generally comprised of triple sec, vodka, simple syrup, and lemon juice served iced cold. Served in a martini glass with a sugared rim and garnished with a lemon twist, this drink is sweet, lemony, and velvety smooth on the tongue. Because of these characteristics, it actually considered a crusta.

How the lemon drop martini came to be

The crusta has been around since the mid-1800s and later made an appearance in "Bartender's Guide: How to Mix Drinks" by Jerry Thomas. While brandy was one of the base alcohols used to make this adult beverage, the rules of alcohol choice were a little fluid. Gin or whiskey might also be a star ingredient. It was definitely an elegant cocktail, but a crusta is not served in a martini glass but rather a wine glass with a rim coated in a crust of sugar. But the lemon drop isn't the only cocktail that can claim the crusta as part of its origin story. The sidecar, which uses orange liqueur and brandy, was also birthed from this drink.

Funny enough, the crusta saw its popularity take a dip in the early part of the 20th century, but it wasn't until the 1970s that this cocktail was updated and transformed into the lemon drop. The lemon drop was invented during this decade at a bar in San Francisco called Henry Africa's and found a whole new audience of imbibers. Today, it has a fan base that includes Oprah, and Martha Stewart has a Meyer lemon drop martini on her cocktail menu at her Bedford restaurant in Las Vegas.