Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Limoncello for Slackers

There are few ingredients that delight me as much as Meyer lemons. Their zest has a more pungent aroma, but the juice is less acidic. Their sweet, fragrant quality makes them versatile for recipes both on the hot and cold side- and let's not forget, the bar side.

Tasting limoncello was my first vivid experience with a grown-up drink. Perhaps my most. It was my first time in Italy. I was 16. At the end of an intimate dinner in Sorrento, our inn keeper hosts pulled out a long, thin bottle filled with a mysterious pale yellow liqueur. My friends and I were presented with stemmed shot glasses of the lemony drink as a gift. We saluted, clinked glasses while looking each other in the eye, and took a cautious sip as it is intended. All except for me. I threw the shot back so fast I barely tasted it until the piercing burn of alcohol slapped my throat. The others stared at me and kept sipping.

I give you a very easy way to thoroughly enjoy an excess of lemons.

Zest as many lemons as you have. It should take ten or twelve for a liter of alcohol, but this is the shortcut version. Then juice them. Pour zest and juice into a bottle of vodka (you may have to drink some of it first to make more room). Let the zest and juice marinate for 1-2 weeks. I tasted mine every few days to understand its journey. When ready, strain out the zest (it will start to make it bitter if it isn't strained). I don't add water or sugar because meyer lemons will make a sweeter limoncello, but it also works well as a mixer.

Best when sipped. You can save the shots for that bottle of Old Crow lying around.

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