Homemade Limoncello and Citrus Fizz
Summer’s here and it’s time to get your bar in season and on trend. With working-class roots in the Amalfi Coast region of Italy, limoncello is now getting some ice time of late as trendsetters such as Mario Batali and George Clooney sing its praises and Danny DeVito markets his own brand south of the border.
I opt to make my own using organic lemons (no waxy skins) and with less sugar…just enough to round out the punch. For best results it takes a month to extract the flavour and oils from the lemon zest, so you better get started now. Enjoy throughout July, August and September in the backyard over ice—or in a cocktail like the one that follows. You know how the old chestnut goes: “when life gives you lemons…you make limoncello, of course.”
15 organic lemons
2 750 ml bottles vodka
1 cup simple syrup (add 1cup sugar to 1 cup water and boil 5 to 10 minutes until slight thickening occurs; let cool)
2 oz limoncello
½ fresh grapefruit, juiced
Wash and dry the lemons. Using a sharp knife, shave thin slices of lemon zest, carefully avoiding the white pith (which imparts unpleasant bitterness). Place in a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid and top with vodka. The lemon zest should be completely submerged in vodka. Store in a cool, dark place for 6–8 weeks. (You can use the juice from the remaining lemons to make a nice lemonade, or freeze it in ice cube trays for future use.)
When lemon vodka is ready, strain liquid, discard peels and pour liquid back in glass jar. Mix in your simple syrup. Add more or less to taste. Mix well, cover with lid and store in cool place again for 2 to 4 weeks, at which point you can put into bottles and store in the freezer. Drink cold in a small shot glass as a “digestivo” after a meal (for medicinal purposes only), or use as the base of your fave cocktail—like the one below.
Pour limoncello and grapefruit juice over ice. Top with soda water.