Limoncello is Italian for “Lemony Goodness”

When it’s this hot out, one of my favorite patio drinks is limoncello with vodka, crushed ice, fresh mint and soda. It’s so refreshing and delicious and goes down just a little too easily. I was thinking about having one earlier this week, which was kind of a problem, because I was not thinking about it back in May when I should have been making the limoncello. Yes, it takes that long to make, but it’s worth it. Homemade limoncello is amazing. I might make some this weekend, in case there’s a surprise heat wave in September, or just to have on hand for next year. Here’s my recipe:


20 organic lemons (choose fresh, thick-skinned lemons for better zest)
2 750 ml bottles of vodka, as high-proof as you can get. Everclear is the best if you can get a hold of it.
3-4 cups sugar
3-4 cups water


3-4 Mason jars with seals
4 740 ml bottles with pop-tops for storing. I use carbonated lemonade ones, but a Groslch bottles would work too or you can usually buy them at kitchen stores

Phase 1:

1. Wash the lemons really well.
2. Zest your little heart out. Try not to get any of the pith! You can do this with an actual zester, but it works equally well (and can be easier to manage later on) with a sharp knife.
3. Put the peels in a jar and fill with vodka, leaving a small space at the top. Last year I put some vanilla in with mine and that turned out really nicely.
4. Wait.


Seriously. Put it in your fridge and other than swirling it around every week or so, don’t touch it for a couple of months.

Phase 2:

1. Put the water and sugar in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.
2. Let it cool.
3. Move half of the lemon-vodka mix into the other jar so there’s room and when the syrup is cool, add it to the jars.*
4. Wait some more. (Only a couple of weeks this time, though).

*People who are better at measuring may be able to do this step in-jar. Usually I pour everything into a big bowl, mix it up and put it back in the jars.

Phase 3:

1. Strain the lemon mix through cheesecloth, squeezing as much liquid out of the peels as possible (that’s limoncello you’re wasting!).
2. Funnel into bottles.
3. It’s best served cold, so keep it in the fridge or freezer.

My favorite way to drink it is, as mentioned, with soda and vodka and mint. I don’t have much of a sweet-tooth, so I need to dilute it a fair bit, but some other good ways of drinking it are in champagne, with soda and some blueberries floating in it or just straight and ice-cold like they do in Italia.


5 Responses to “Limoncello is Italian for “Lemony Goodness””

  1. Posted on July 30th, 2009

    You need to go over and make Andrea one of those like right now!

  2. Posted on July 30th, 2009

    This sounds delicious, but the waiting just might kill me. This is part of the reason why I can’t make dill pickles – because I end up opening them before they’re completely pickled (but they’re still good).

  3. Posted on July 31st, 2009

    I like to use a microplane zester. It makes filtering a little messier but it’s so efficient at getting all the zest and none of the pith. I also like to let it sit for a looong time with the liquor and only a week or so with the simple syrup. My vote for favorite way to drink it is straight up, straight from the freezer.

  4. Posted on August 5th, 2009

    I can attest to the waiting. The more waiting, the better.

  5. Posted on August 5th, 2009

    and NOW I am going to make fig-rum and bacon-bourbon. yippee!!

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