When I was a little kid, my Mom had this pretty glass bottle in the kitchen that she had filled with cranberries and vodka. I think she had seen this home decor tip in a magazine or on Martha Stewart as a way to accessorize. This red bottle with a white cap sat on the counter for years as a decoration. Several years went by, and the cranberry vodka bottle remained on the counter unopened. It kind of became a centerpiece of the kitchen. One Christmas, my Dad thought it might be fun, seasonal, and festive to pop open the top of this cranberry vodka decoration bottle that had been sitting on the counter and try a little nip.
As a former high school chemistry teacher, you think he would have been slightly alarmed when he opened the bottle and the bouquet resembled that of jet fuel. It should have caused even greater concern when he poured a small swig into a glass and before he could lift the glass to his lips more than half had evaporated up the sides of the glass like nail polish remover. However, he still took a little sip. Long story short, we think the cranberry vodka mixture had undergone several fermentation processes in the years it sat on the counter as home decor, because I’m pretty sure my Dad swore off shots that day, and no one saw the cranberry bottle on the counter after that, again.
I tell you this story because recently my brother-in-law, Joe, came by to show me how to make Limoncello. As we were peeling lemons, preparing to soak the rinds in Everclear, and making batches of simple syrup, I couldn’t help but think of my Dad and how I think he would have appreciated this recipe a bit more as it is way more palatable and way less flammable.
Limoncello is still pretty strong hooch, but it is liqueur that can be mixed lots of ways to make some delicious cocktails.
Here is a simple recipe for this citrus liqueur.
Limoncello (makes three bottles of liqueur and can be doubled to make for friends)
15 large fresh lemons rinsed clean
1 bottle Everclear grain alcohol
4 cup water
4 cups sugar
Using a very sharp pairing knife, peel the rind of the lemons being sure to only peel the yellow portion.
You do not want to have any of the white pith, this will make your mixture very bitter.
Once all the lemons are peeled, put the peels in a glass container with a tight fitting lid (I used a decanter). Pour the Evercleafr over the peels.
Store in a dark cool place (not the refrigerator) for 10 days. Shaking the mixture once a day. I put the mixture in my laundry room so that when I went down to do a load of laundry I would shake it up.
After ten days, strain the Everclear mixture to remove all the lemon peel.
It will be a lemony yellow color.
In a large sauce pan over medium heat, mix together the water and sugar. Bring to a low boil and reduce heat stirring occasionally. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes until sugar is dissolved. The makes a simple syrup.
Remove this mixture from the stove and let it cool completely to room temperature.
Once the syrup is cool you can mix the lemon mixture and the syrup together.
Funnel into your storage bottles (I just throughly cleaned out the Everclear bottles as well as an old wine bottle and removed the labels.)
Store in the freezer.
Enjoy responsibly sipped alone, a shot with club soda, with lemonade, or even over a bit of sorbet for a refreshing treat.