Savory Cocktails: Bitter Lemon Drop

Bitter Lemon Drop from Sippity Sup

Life is funny. Some would say it’s bitter. But I’d say it’s bittersweet. So I have the  Bitter Lemon Drop.

That’s because I spent a good part of the last year working on a new book called, Savory Cocktails. Which means I spent a lot of time thinking about booze. I recently turned the book in to my editor, so it’s nearly finished. It will be in stores this Fall. Sure there will be changes (and arguments) but for the most part the book is fully formed. It is who it is. Still, sometimes I lay awake at night thinking about ways I could have made it bigger, better, stronger– more savory.

I suppose that’s natural, and I shouldn’t get too hung up on it, right? Still, just because my book is near full gestation doesn’t mean I can just stop ‘inventing’ cocktails in my mind. I’ve been doing it for far too long. Besides, inspiration is everywhere. In fact when I was in Hawaii I overheard a woman trying to decide what to order at a bar near Kona called Lava Lava. When she spoke to the bartender she said, ‘All these tropical drinks are just too sweet for me. Can you suggest something I might like better?’

If she’d have been talking to me I would have steered her towards some of the really good beer they’re brewing in Hawaii. But the bartender suggested a Lemon Drop. I was flabbergasted. A Lemon Drop is almost as sickly sweet as a Cosmopolitan. I really felt the bartender steered her wrong. But I was on vacation. I wasn’t about to get behind the bar and help her out.

As it turns out I was right. She took one sip of her drink, looked her companion in the face and quietly mouthed, ‘too sweet’. She was a good sport though. She didn’t complain and I noticed she seemed to be having a lovely time despite the sweet drink in her hand.

Ever since that day I’ve been thinking of a way to enjoy a ‘Lemon Drop’ without having it taste too much like its rock candy namesake. This is what I came up with. Yuzu makes it plenty bitter. A duo of lemon and lime infused spirits keeps it sour. But this Bitter Lemon Drop is made balanced and just sweet enough with a floral whiff from an elderflower corsage. GREG

Bitter Lemon Drop 

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*To make the lemon and lime infusions use 2 cups base spirit and 1 cup citrus peel with very little pith. Infuse at least 48 hours, swirling the container occasionally.

**Yuzu is a very aromatic type of sour citrus fruit originating in East Asia. It’s typical in Japanese cooking and is integral in ponzu sauce. The fruit can be found fresh and seasonal in many Asian markets, or it can be purchased as bottled juice in Asian markets or on the web. You may also substitute lemon or lime juice.

Bitter Lemon Drop Cocktail


  • 1 lemon wedge
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 ounce lemon infused gin or vodka *see notes
  • 1 ounce lime infused Cocchi Americano *see notes
  • 1 ounce yuzu juice, squeezed from fresh fruit when available or bottled **see notes
  • ½ ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 4 drop Miracle Mile yuzu bitters


Use the lemon wedge to lightly moisten the rim of a coup or cocktail glass. Pour the sugar onto a small saucer, spreading it out in a thin but consistent layer. Press the rim of the glass into the sugar cookie cutter style, twisting it back and forth the get a nice evenly coated rim. Set aside.

Add infused gin or vodka, infused Cocchi, yuzu juice, St Germain Liqueur and bitters to a cocktail shaker ⅔ filled with ice. Shake vigorously until well chilled. Strain into the prepared glass.