We all know what Limoncello is. It’s that awesome deli/bistro/cocktail bar on Mill Road. The place you go for a genuine taste of Italy.
No wait, it’s that funky yellow stuff you get given free shots of in Italian restaurants. Perhaps just because your bartender likes you; or maybe because you gave the place a great review on Tripadvisor; or perhaps simply because your waiter is flirting with you.
But seriously, what is Limoncello? And what else can you do with it?
Simply put, Limoncello is a liqueur of Italian origin whose primary ingredient and flavour is lemon zest. The lemon zest is soaked in neutral spirit – a very high % pure alcohol with no inherent flavour. This leaches all of the lovely essential oils which give lemon zest its taste and smell out of the zest and into solution. The zest is then discarded, and this solution is diluted down by mixing with sugary water until we end up with Limoncello. A typical alcohol level is ~30%, but this varies considerably. Especially with the homemade stuff. And it never seems to taste that strong.
This makes it sound deceptively easy to make. Because it is. Homemade Limoncello is very common in Italy and increasingly in other countries too. The only trick to it is getting the correct balance of zesty alcohol to sugar to water to suit your own personal taste. Well, that and sourcing high quality lemons, of course. And it also allows for experimentation and individuality in your recipes. Feel like making a Limoncello using not just lemon zest, but also lime and mandarin too? Go ahead. Want to dilute it with milk instead of sugar syrup? Why not try it?
As with most things Italian, it is the intensity of the experience that marks out top quality stuff from a cheap knockoff. Which makes homemade Limoncello some of the best around as it can be made as intense as you want it. So when choosing the commercial brands to stock, we at Limoncello try to select the zingiest and most intense Limoncellos on the market. The ones than taste most like they were made in rural Italy. Because most of them were. Come in some day and check out our selection.
What do I do with Limoncello?
Besides the obvious?
What makes Limoncello unique is that it’s lemon, without the drawbacks. This is best illustrated talking about cocktails. Cocktail bartenders routinely use sour citrus juices like lemon or lime juice to balance out the sweetness of other cocktail ingredients. And that’s great as it opens up whole worlds of cocktail options. But what happens if you want to impart a lemony flavour without adding a sour element to a drink (or dessert, or whatever)?
You use Limoncello. And this makes it a very special and versatile ingredient, valuable to any level of cocktail bartender or cook.
When talking about homemade desserts, Limoncello is a clear winner. From the classic Limoncello cheesecake to a lemon drizzle cake and even a Limoncello tiramisu. Though that last one may offend some purists.
And as for drinks, Limoncello is prominent in the alcoholic cheesecake that is the New York Tart and our very own take on the Amaretto Sour, the Nut Buster. Plus of course the ever popular Limoncello Spritz.