Lemon Drop Martini – Original Recipe & History

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Lemon Drop Martini
Lemon Drop Martini

The Lemon Drop Martini And Henry Africa’s Bar.

The Lemon Drop Martini was invented at Henry Africa’s Bar in the early 1970s. Henry Africa’s Bar first opened in 1969 on Broadway and Polk in San Francisco and two years later moved a block over to Van Ness Avenue and Vallejo. The unusual interior design and styling Norman Hobday used with Henry Africa eventually became known as a Fern Bar. The fern bar style uses a bright open layout. Stained glass windows let in the sun, and Tiffany lamps and chandeliers decorate the space. Lush plants and abundant use of ferns provide vegetation, and patrons sit at their tables on victorian loveseats. Norman Hobday (who, a few years later, legally changed his name to Henry Africa) created the fern bar style with the idea of catering to women.

Most bars, pubs, sports bars, etc., have a male vibe and tend to attract men wanting to go out and have a few drinks with their other male friends. Norman Hobday gave Henry Africa’s Bar a female vibe instead. The decorations, brunch menu, and bright sugary drinks made for a bar women would hopefully choose to meet up at and chat. Hobday even wore his old military uniform around the bar and called himself Corporal Henry Africa. There is a famous photo of him in the 80s wearing a military hat and jacket with little short shorts and sneakers. One of the most popular things to come out of his fern bar was the Lemon Drop Martini. A sweet and tart cocktail that fits the location it was invented. The Lemon Drop is a fantastic cocktail that reminds me of a classic Cuban daiquiri, more sweet than sour but very good.

Hobday sold Henry Africa’s Bar in 1985, and the bar closed in 1986. Hobday went on to open other bars in San Francisco till his passing in 2011 at the age of 77. If you search Henry Africa’s Bars brunch or menus, there are a few old archived articles by the Washington Post and others from the 1970s and 80s that are fun to read.


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Lemon Drop Martini

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Course: DrinksCuisine: American






Total time



Learn how to make a classic Lemon Drop Martini.


  • 1 oz Lemon Juice

  • 1 oz Simple Syrup

  • 1/2 oz Orange Liqueur

  • 2 oz Vodka


  • First, garnish the glass with a sugar-crusted rim.
  • Combine all ingredients in the shaker. Add ice to the shaker.
  • Vigorously shake till the shaker is ice cold and frosted.
  • Strain into glass to remove ice shards.

Recipe Video



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