Lemon Drops have been my go to drink. I enjoy lemon drops so much that it was my signature drink for my wedding. A whole year later I decided that I would embark on a Lemon Drop Tour because the only place that I usually have lemon drops is at Cheesecake Factory. For a while Cheesecake Factory has held the top spot for Lemon Drops. They are well made, nice sized glass and just strong enough that I usually only have one.
Since I’ve been on the outdoor dining scene and spending much needed time with my girls, I’ve decided that instead of ordering the signature cocktails of the restaurant, I would instead order Lemon Drops every where I went and so far so good. I’ve been loving this experience and I think it’s cool to pick something to try at several places. I have a feeling I’ll be updating this list periodically; that said lets get into the best lemon drops in Los Angeles.
Best Lemon Drops in Los Angeles
This list is in order from best to least favorite and is based on a number of things such a presentation, taste and glass sizes.
Catch LA Has the Best Lemon Drops
I had the pleasure of trying Catch for the first time in August and because I was waiting for a gf, they seat you at until your table/party is ready so I ordered a lemon drop and I don’t know if it was just the vibe of the bartender or what, but she and I were vibing and she made me the BEST lemon drop I’ve ever had. Not only did she make me the best, she made me two of them and only charged me for one (our secret) and I mean really well done. The perfect thirst quencher because it was a bit toasty that day.
I know how lemon drops are made since I bought the ingredients for our wedding, but truly each of hers was made so differently. The Catch lemon drop was the perfect sweetness paired with lemon, chilled just perfectly. It was the perfect blend of everything that makes a lemon drop what it is and maybe it’s quality of ingredients, but it was full meaning not a single thing lacked and I’ve had some thin drinks. It was served in a coupe style glass which I don’t dislike, I feel like there is less chance of spilling, but I do love how luxurious it feels.
I do appreciate each restaurant having their signature way to serve their drinks. Number 1 spot goes to Catch.
Now my Cara Hotel lemon drop was the most luxurious one I’ve experienced. It came in a coupe style glass, very delicate, but not to the point of not wanting to pick it up. They brought it out on a hand held wood mini tray which is so much more beautiful than the big black trays that we’re used to.
Whoever was on bar duty when I went for dinner was excellent, so excellent I ordered a second. This was made with Kettle One which I don’t usually drink, but it worked well for this; Kettle One has a pretty distinct taste for me and I can usually always tell when something is made with it, but this was well made, well shaken, it wasn’t too strong. It didn’t have that extra razzle dazzle that the one from Catch did but it was really delicious and I would order two again. They use fine sugar so the glass did get a little messy. Coupe glasses can be tough because the stem is a bit shorter compared to a traditional martini glass; there is basically no way to avoid the sugar runs. Number 2 spot goes to Cara Hotel.
My lemon drops at the Cheesecake Factory held me down; that was all I knew until I finally ventured out. I’ve ordered other things as well, but every time I would come back to my lemon drop. They serve it in a traditional martini glass, it’s usually pretty full and it’s been the best I’ve had until it became the third best. Can ya’ll believe it!
My favorite thing about the Cheesecake Factory lemon drop is the sugar doesn’t get all sticky icky on the stem of the glass since they use regular sugar. Now that I have ventured out, Cheesecake’s lemon drop is a little thin. I really do think quality of ingredients plays a major role and I stan Cheesecake Factory so I believe they have the best quality of everything, but you never know. I just know what used to my number one had to drop down a few notches because there is better out there. In the defense of the factory one is really all you need at least every time I’ve gone and because the martini glass is large you get a little more in my opinion. Number 3 spot goes to Cheesecake Factory.
Who goes to Javier’s and doesn’t order a margarita or mezcal style drink? My dad actually, but this time when I tried to order a marg, my husband said, you should see how the lemon drops are and the tour continued. I have to admit the bartender that we could see from our seats, shaking and pouring was doing his thing. There were a lot of drink order’s going out and he killed it.
Coming in hot at number 4, though it could have also been in the 3 spot, Javier’s. If you live in LA, venture out to the Newport one, such beautiful views. There is also one in Irvine that is most likely worth the drive.
Now before I move on, I wasn’t sure if I should add these to the list because they were my least favorites. There will definitely be an update to this post as I try more places, least favorites included. That said let’s talk about the lemon drops that missed the mark.
Let me start by saying, I love Il Fornaio, my favorite location is the Pasadena one, but because I’ve been keeping my word and going on dates with my girl friends, we couldn’t resist a night in Beverly Hills over pasta.
Restaurants have full bars for a reason, but depending on the type of restaurant, certain things are rarely ordered. Insert my lemon drop from Il Fornaio. It wasn’t awful, but it was giving, we don’t do this often. The martini glass was a dessert size glass or a mini glass, it was small which was fine, but it just didn’t wow me. The huge lemon wedge did nothing for the tiny glass, but because the glass is small it would have taken over the whole cup.
The sugared rim was very weak, almost like we don’t have sugar or we’re too lazy to actually dip it on a plate of sugar. I wouldn’t order it again from there, I’ll stick to my wine and rose. Coming in at Number 5, Il Fornaio.
BJ’s Has the Worst Lemon Drops
BJ’s always reminds me why I barely eat there. We only ended up at BJ’s because the place we originally wanted to go to was going to be a long wait and we had already been doing something for the past 2 hours and just wanted to eat and sit.
My girl friend and I sat at the bar and they have daily food specials. This was lowkey when the lemon drop tour began. I was mostly surprised at how cheap they were at BJ’s. It was like $9; you get what you pay for right? It definitely tasted like a $9 lemon drop. It’s very thin, and more liquor than sweet and sour and it just was not hitting; what did I do? Order a second one thinking maybe the first one was just rushed.
As you can see in the picture, the second one is still thin, but seems to have more life than the almost empty one. They also were inconsistent with the glasses. I was surprised to have had such a mediocre lemon drop experience because if you remember, Cheesecake Factory prior to this experience was the only place I’d had lemon drops. Basically BJ’s was the reason I needed to see what the city of LA was talking about. Picking up the rear in last place, BJ’s.
I’ll definitely be updating this post with hopefully more good than bad.