Looking for a limoncello recipe? Limoncello is a sweet lemon liquor from Sorrento, Italy. It was invented in the 19th century by an innkeeper, Vincenza Canale, who served her guests homemade lemon liquor as a digestivo (after-dinner drink). You can buy limoncello ready-made, but it's just as easy to make your own, adjusting the sweetness and lemon flavor to your own preferences.
To make limoncello, you will need:
- three pounds lemons
- 16 ounces 190-proof grain alcohol, such as Everclear
- 1-quart glass jar with tight-fitting lid
- four cups sugar
- four cups water
- glass bottles
- Wash the lemons and pat dry. This will remove any pesticides or waxy residue.
- Remove the outer yellow zest from the lemon using a citrus zester or vegetable peeler. Stay away from the white pith; it will make your limoncello recipe taste bitter. Mince the lemon zest.
- Combine the grain alcohol and lemon zest in a 1-quart glass jar with a tight lid.
- Store the limoncello recipe at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for three to ten days or even longer, if you prefer a stronger lemon flavor. Shake it about once per day. The grain alcohol will soon take on a bright yellow color.
- Heat the sugar and water over medium heat until the sugar dissolves into a simple syrup. Let it cool to room temperature.
- Strain the lemon zest out of the alcohol. Combine the lemon-flavored alcohol with the simple syrup to complete your limoncello recipe.
- Pour the limoncello into glass bottles to store. Serve chilled.
- Use the lemons you zested to make fresh lemonade.
- Add two or three vanilla beans to the lemon zest for a more mellow limoncello with a subtle vanilla flavor.
- Combine limoncello with sparkling white wine for an elegant aperitif (pre-dinner drink).