For our honeymoon my wife and I went to Venice. While there, among other things, we discovered two types of liquor, grappa and limoncello. I will talk about grappa some other time, but it can be compared to a silver tequila, sort of. What we really liked though was the limoncello, especially after a meal as a digestif. So along with bags of Arborio rice, Sambuca, capers packed in salt, and amaretti cookies I found a small area to fit a bottle of this spirit.
Naturally, after we returned to the states and ran out of the small supply we bought, a search commenced for a new supply at our local booze retailers. We found quite a few options but after trying them all discovered none came close to the taste from Italy. Some were too sweet, some not lemony enough, and some were just foul. So I decided to make it myself. After three misadventures I finally succeeded with an old Italian recipe my wife found handwritten in the back of a cookbook at a yard sale. With a few tweaks I had my first batch of limoncello.
A couple of important notes. For the container it is imperative it be made of either glass or ceramic, have a good seal and hold around 3-3 ½ liters of liquid (12 ½ cups). I found mine (pictured) at Michaels for around $15 seven years ago and on a recent trip saw the same type still for sale. Pick the lemons for the quality of the peel only. Try not to get any bruised or spotted ones. I usually juice the leftover lemons and store the strained liquid in the fridge. It keeps for over two months if all the pulp is removed. Some states do not sell pure grain alcohol but instead a 160 proof knock off. If this is the case lower the amount of sugar to equal the amount of water in the simple syrup. One of these states is Nevada, which is amazing since just about everything else there is legal. Another is Utah, but then that really should not be a surprise to anyone. Limoncello is best served cold and poured over ice. I keep a liter bottle full in the freezer and refill it as needed from a larger storage jug in the pantry. It will keep forever once finished in a cool dark cabinet or room.
- 36-40 normal lemons
- 1.5 Liters pure grain alcohol
- 5 ½ cups water
- 6 cups sugar
- Large 3+ liter container
Wash lemons and dry completely. Make sure to remove any dirt, adhesive or writing on skin. Using a potato peeler remove the rind only of each one. Try and have as little pith (white part) on the back of the strips. Place in container. Peel should loosely fill up to 1/3 of the way. Pour in grain alcohol. Seal and place in a cool (68-70 degrees) dark area. Store for 13 days agitating (shaking) it once a day. On the 13th day mix sugar and water together in a large pot. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Cool completely. Strain lemon liquor into simple syrup. Discard lemon rind. Mix liquid together and pour back into storage container. Seal and store in same cool dark place for three weeks agitating twice a day. When time is up enjoy.
The John Daly
- Iced Tea
Fill a glass with iced tea ¾ of the way. Top with limoncello. I came up with this idea after enjoying many an Arnold Palmer and thinking about how they could be better.