I need a heavy dose of sunshine, preferably the kind accompanied by a beach, a tan and a handsome Italian cabana boy asking me what I’d like to drink. Sadly, I’ll have to settle for a sunny bottle of homemade limoncello, a southern Italian lemon liqueur. Since I’m fresh out of Femminello St. Teresa lemons, I’m substituting fragrant Meyer lemons from California. As you may have noticed, winter seems to bring out the booze recipes around here. Blame it on SAD – seasonal affective disorder – and our general lack of sun and heat in Minnesota. I’m certain this limoncello will have many restorative medicinal affects that will hold me over until Spring arrives.
Like several of the citrus liqueurs I’ve been whipping up lately (navel orange liqueur, grapefruit infused gin), limoncello is dead simple to make. Traditionally, most recipes do not use the lemon juice, but I put mine in for good measure. If you choose to leave it out, replace it with water instead. The basic technique is to zest the lemons, add simple syrup and vodka to the zest, let it soak for a month, strain, bottle and drink. The liquid will naturally cloud do to the oils from the lemon zest emulsifying with the vodka. Fantastic mixed in cocktails, on the rocks, straight up, with soda water or bubbly, limoncello is sure to brighten even the SAD-est of winter dwellers, this one included.