It happened. On day 157 of the pandemic (maybe? who knows anymore), I felt it was necessary to make my own alcohol. Mmhmm, yep. And I'm not sorry about it.
I decided to make a favorite of mine: limoncello.
My first taste of this delectable lemony beverage was had on the beaches of Monterosso al Mare. As one of the five coastal villages that make up Italy's famous Cinque Terre, Monterosso is nothing if not beautiful. Situated on the Amalfi Coast with a front row seat to the magical Mediterranean, Monterosso and it's four neighboring towns are a must-see, must-experience part of Italy. Do yourself a favor and carve out at least three to five days to hike along the coastline, explore each village, dine on some of the best seafood and pesto you'll ever have, take a dip in that gorgeous sea and enjoy some limoncello.
Limoncello is dangerously good. I say dangerous because it's one of those drinks that sneaks up on you if you're not careful. I call this drink a porch sipper; something you sip on over the course of a looong evening. Trust me. I learned that lil' tidbit on the beaches of Moterosso al Mare.*wink wink*
Made with 190 proof vodka (aka, Everclear), a TON of lemon zest and simple syrup, limoncello is actually incredibly easy to make. The trick is time: the alcohol and the zest need to steep for a week. After that, you're basically combining the alcohol with sugar water. That's it. Easy, huh?
Oh! One more thing - don't waist your lemons! Juice them and make lemon drops! Or cook with it. Whatever. :)
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Steeping Time: 7 days
Total Time: 7 days 25 minutes
Yields: Approx. (2) 1-litre bottles
1 liter vodka, 190 proof such as Everclear
8 organic lemons, washed and zested - no pith (white stuff), zest only
3 cups water
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cheese cloth
Large canning/sealable glass jar
2 750ml sealable glass bottles
Thoroughly wash and dry lemons. Using a vegetable peeler, carefully peel the zest from each lemon, making sure to remove any pith (white stuff) from the zest. The pith will add a bitter taste to the limoncello and we don't want that!
Place zest in a large canning/sealable glass jar.
Pour alchohol over lemon zest and seal the jar. Let the jar stand at room temperature for the next six days.
On the sixth day, make your simple syrup. In a saucepan, bring 3 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar to a high heat. You want the water to get hot without reaching a boil. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow the syrup to cool at room temperature.
When the syrup has cooled, strain the alcohol into a large pitcher using a cheesecloth. Ring the zest dry to get as much of the liquid as possible.
Pour 2/3 of the simple syrup into the pitcher with the alcohol and stir well. Taste it. If you feel it needs a little more sugar, add in the rest of the syrup. I added all of it!
Make sure to stir the limoncello well.
Pour limoncello into the bottles, coming up to the base of the neck. One bottle will be full and the other will be about 3/4 full. Seal the bottles and store in fridge overnight.
Enjoy...in small sipping glasses! :)