In the 1970s, bars began catering to a new clientele: single women. They crafted colorful, sugary, so-called “girly drinks” to attract women to the bar, hoping that the men would follow and create a lively, diverse nightlife scene. One such bar was the legendary (now sadly defunct) Henry Africa’s in San Francisco—the world’s first “fern bar,” which was a slang term for preppy bars that catered to singles, typically decorated with ferns and Tiffany lamps. There, bartender Norman Jay Hobday created his own take on the girly drink trend: the Lemon Drop Martini. Made with crowd-pleasing vodka, orange liqueur, lemon juice and simple syrup, the original Lemon Drop Martini was a sweet-tart cocktail designed to taste like the namesake hard candy. Unfortunately, over the years, the easy-drinking vodka cocktail evolved into a syrupy, artificial mess, much like its fruity and pink little sister: the Cosmopolitan. By the 1990s, ordering one would get you a neon-colored shooter, with a side of sugar and a lemon wedge for chasing, instead of a refreshing coupe full of lemony elixir. The cocktail can be salvaged, though, with fresh lemon juice, high quality liquors and homemade simple syrup. Opt for a citrus-forward vodka like Ketel One, or even a citrus-flavored vodka like Absolut Citron, and a premium orange liqueur like Cointreau or Combier. But above all else, fresh lemon juice is absolutely non-negotiable. And don’t forget the sugared rim, made by rimming the glass in lemon juice and white sugar to form a crystalline crust (the same technique used to make a Brandy Crusta and Sidecar). You might be drinking like a grown-up but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little sugar once in a while.
Lemon Drop Martini
- Rim a coupe glass with lemon juice and superfine sugar.
- Add the citrus vodka, Cointreau, lemon juice and simple syrup to a shaker.
- Add ice, shake and strain into the rimmed glass.
- Garnish with a lemon wedge
The Blue Hawaii wasn’t named after the Elvis movie, like you might expect. In fact, the drink predates the film by four years. Bartender Harry Yee created the cocktail in 1957 while he was working at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. A Bols sales representative came to Yee asking for a drink made with the company’s blue curaçao liqueur...