Here at IPTB headquarters (our tiny apartment), Shanna and I have embarked on a new and bold boozological experiment. After a fair amount of research we are attempting to make our own homemade Limoncello. This lemon flavored liqeur is a traditional Italian drink that can be mixed into a variety of cocktails, but is most often enjoyed on its own. It’s the sort of drink that seems like it was invented just for long summer evenings with a few close friends.
We’ve found a few different websites each with their own tips and tricks but the general idea is the same. Essentially the process is this: 1) Add lemon peels to vodka (or Everclear if you’re willing to pay that much) and let it sit. 2) Add simple syrup and let it sit some more. 3) Strain the peels out, chill, and enjoy. However, the ratio of peels to vodka to syrup depends on where you look, as does the amount of time you should allot for each step. We’ve seen the process range anywhere from two days to two months, but general consensus says that the longer you wait, the better your result will be. Think of it as an exercise in patience, a zen meditation, but instead of Nirvana your reward is delicious lemon flavored hooch. That’s why we’ve decided to allow the full two months for step one and an additional two weeks for step two.
Choosing and preparing your ingredients is also a very important part of the process. Organic lemons are said to work best with any wax or dirt washed off. When peeling your lemons, be sure to get only the yellow rind. The white pith will make your limoncello bitter. (We were perhaps not as vigilant on this front as we should have been, but that’s why it’s an experiment.) We used the peels from 10 lemons and almost an entire 1.75 liter bottle of Crown Russe vodka. Cheap vodkas are supposed to work better, but I personally hold hangover-induced grudges against Vladimir and Banker’s Club.
Once you’ve let your peels steep as long as you can stand, make about 2-3 cups of simple syrup with equal amounts water and sugar. (2-3 cups of each. If you remember back to high school chemistry, when sugar dissolves in water, it retains the same volume as the water.) Add this to your alcohol and peels, and allow it to sit some more, generally around two weeks.
Once these two weeks are up, you’re officially done! Time to sit back and enjoy your delicious homemade beverage.
Additional tips: At some point in the process you’re bound to end up with 10 peel-less lemons. Rather than let them go to waste, squeeze the juice out of them, throw it in a bottle, and you’re set for as many Sidecars or Jack Roses as you can handle.
For more info, this is the website we found most useful: Homemade Limoncello Recipe