Over the years my friends Stephanie and Ilan have sampled (and occasionally endured) my cocktail creations. A couple of years ago they gave me a gag birthday gift – a bottle of Everclear grain alcohol. Yes, the stuff that leads to many collegiate hangovers. After conducting some research, I found a more sophisticated use for the Everclear. And that’s how I decided to make limoncello.
Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur. Traditionally one uses grain alcohol as the base. There are a tremendous number of recipes out there. I sifted through them and found one that is generally idiot proof, which means it is perfect for me. There are two stages to the process.
1 liter of 190 proof grain alcohol
3 pounds of organic lemons
Zest (remove the peels with as little of the white pith as possible) the lemons, combine the peels with the grain alcohol in a sealed container, and wait for four weeks.
Make super simple syrup (click here to see the post) with 4 cups water and 3 cups sugar
Strain the lemon peels from the Stage One mixture
Combine the super simple syrup with the Stage One mixture
Wait another three of four weeks (the payoff is worth the wait), filter the product (I use basic coffee filters), bottle and enjoy.
This recipe makes about two liters of what I call Lupo limoncello (lupo is the Italian word for wolf). If you’re using 190 proof Everclear, the Lupo limoncello should be around 95 proof. This is stronger than the limoncello than you’ll find on the shelves in liquor stores.
Keep in mind there are two types of Everclear – 190 proof and 151 proof. Obviously the former is more potent than the latter. More states are banning the 190 proof version, but you can find it online. Regardless of which type you use, your limoncello will evoke thoughts such as walking along the Grand Canal in Venice, gazing at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel ….. you get the idea.