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Limoncello Recipe: A Lemony Italian Liqueur

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This sweet, aromatic limoncello recipe is served as an after-dinner drink in dainty chilled glasses all over Italy. The flavors mellow over time, so allow the liqueur to rest for a few weeks for the best flavor.

Limoncello Recipe

Makes about 41/2 cups


Organic lemons, 2 1⁄2 lb (1.25 kg)
Vodka, 1 bottle (24–fl oz/750-ml oz) 100-proof
Sugar, 1 cup (8 oz/250 g)


Using a fine-tooth grater, zest the lemons over a large measuring cup with a spout. Add the vodka to the cup, then pour the mixture intoa 1-qt (1-l) glass jar. Screw on the lid and place the jar in a cool, dark place for 30 days, shaking it every few days.

Strain the vodka mixture through a fine-mesh tea strainer or use the plunger of a spotlessly clean French press coffee maker. Alternatively, dampen a double layer of cheesecloth with cold water and wring out all of the moisture. Line a fine-mesh sieve with the cheesecloth and place over a large measuring cup. Pour the vodka mixture into the sieve and let it drain completely, pressing gently on the lemon zest.

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From the Organic Authority Files

Using a funnel, pour the strained liquor into a 41⁄2-cup (36–fl oz/1.2-l) bottle. In a small saucepan, combine 11⁄2 cups (12 fl oz/375 ml) water with the sugar and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the sugar syrup from the heat, add it to the vodka, secure the lid, and shake to blend. Refrigerate for at least 4 days; the liqueur will mellow in flavor with age. It will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator or freezer.

For Grappa Sundrop: Mix together 3 fl oz (90 ml) Limoncello and ¾ fl oz (20 ml) grappa. Pour over crushed ice in a chilled martini glass and garnish with a lemon wedge. Makes 1 serving.

For Sparkling Limoncello:Add a splash of Limoncello to a chilled Champagne flute or coupe. Fill the glass with Champagne. Makes 1 serving.

Reprinted with permission from "Better From Scratch". Photography by Alice Gao. Copyright 2014 by Weldon Owen Inc. and Williams-Sonoma, Inc.

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