Limoncello comes from a traditional Italian mentality; “take a little effort to make something so simple, into something so great.” Limoncello is a fairly new addition to the delectable beverages from the boot of the Mediterranean. It was first created in the 19th century on the island of Capri, located on the southern tip of the Bay of Naples. The popularity of this “digestivo”, or after-dinner drink, quickly spread amongst the many travelers to Italy. Today, there are many companies that produce limoncello, but like several other priceless traditions, it is best when made in the home with the help of the family. I have decided share our recipe with you, so that when you aren’t at Tomasso, or in Italy, you can enjoy this joyful beverage with your family.
This recipe makes about 1.5 Liters
12 oz Everclear or pure grain alcohol
22 oz Vodka (smoother is better)
8 oz sugar
8 oz water
Zest the 8 lemons into the container you will let the Limoncello age in. Be careful not to zest the pith (the white under the rind of the lemons), this can lead to unpleasant bitterness. Pour both the vodka and everclear into the container with the lemon zest. Now here’s the hard part, it needs to sit for about 2 weeks to impart the flavor from the lemons.
After the two weeks is up, strain the lemon zest out from the vodka and everclear mixture; coffee filters work great but please be patient and don’t try to force it. Make a “simple syrup” by bringing the water to a boil and whisking in the sugar off of the heat. After the simple syrup has cooled, whisk it into the vodka and everclear. The best tool for this is a hand-blender. Once you have finished this process, the mixture needs about 24 hours to completely come together. It should have a good burn from the alcohol, some sweetness from the syrup, and a slight bitterness from the lemons.
Serve it chilled (I like to keep mine in the freezer) with a sugar rim and a lemon twist.
This recipe also works well with oranges!
And here’s a tip for the leftover lemons, try using the juice to make a chicken picatta or just add it directly to a glass of Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka.
For more information on Tomasso at the Turtle Point clubhouse for Kiawah’s best tastes if Italy.