Salty Caramel Lemon Drop

If you've had a cocktail in the Twin Cities in the last 10 years chances are good that bartender Johnny Michaels was involved, in some way, in its creation.  Whether through consulting, inspiring, or teaching, Michaels' reach and influence is wide within the Twin Cities bar community.  His Northstar Cocktails recipe book highlights recipes and techniques from some of his protégés, and proceeds benefit the SPCA International.

Now, after a long break he is back behind the bar -- this time at The Alchemist in White Bear Lake, MN.  The Salty Caramel Lemon Drop is the best seller at The Alchemist, and a perfect example of Michaels' emphasis on fun over pretense.  It makes use of a coffee-house staple -- caramel syrup -- to provide balance to lemon juice and cava.

This recipe is the home version of the Salty Caramel Lemon Drop; it omits the lemon-foam garnish that is applied at the Alchemist, which is time consuming to make and requires access to a restaurant-style cream whipper.

With or without the garnish this drink is a tasty balance between sweet and savory. The flavor reminds me a bit of key lime pie, or lemon meringue pie (particularly with the garnish applied).


  • 1 ½ oz citrus vodka
  • ¾ oz salty caramel syrup (Monin brand, or other)
  • ¾ oz fresh lemon juice
  • 2 oz cava
  • Lemon wheel (optional)


Shake the vodka, syrup, and juice over ice to combine.  Strain into a chilled martini glass (should be around 2/3 full). Top with 2 ounces of cava, garnish with a floating lemon wheel.


The Alchemist is located in downtown White Bear Lake, and is open evenings Tuesday through Saturday

2222 4th St.
White Bear Lake, MN 55110
(651) 261-6662