On a hot summer day, who doesn't crave a cocktail that is cold, fresh, and lemony? Well, it is damned hot here in Capri, and this island is covered with hearty citrus dripping with huge lemons so Limoncello it is!
Capri dons its fair share of sunburned tourists, mega yachts, bejeweled sandals, and bad dance music blasting into the night. Beneath the glitz, there is a heartwarming undercurrent of luscious gardens producing not decorative flowers to please the tourists, but loads of happy fruits and veggies. If you step away from the piazzetta and wander the narrow walking paths, you find nestled amongst the hotels and luxury villas humble, country-style gardens bursting with food - kiwis, squash, grapes, tomatoes, green beans, arugula, figs, rosemary, kumquats, olives. Glamour isn't the only priority on Capri, clearly the folks here care about the homegrown food as well. I dig that.
I wanted to share a little taste of the island with you guys and many claim that Limoncello finds its origins on Capri. The chilled sweet citrusy liquor is a nice end to dinner on a summer's evening. It takes a bit of patience to make your own (curing takes 2-4 weeks), but I think it's worth the wait.
Note: Use organic lemons, if you can. The drink gets its flavor not from the juice of the lemon, but from its peel, and that's where most of the pesticides reside in non-organic lemons.
INGREDIENTS adapted from "Lemon Zest" by Lori Longbotham featured in the NY Times
- 6 lemons (Sorrento Lemons are used in Italy. Meyers are a nice American substitute.)
- 1 750 ml bottle vodka
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
After two weeks of curing, make a simple syrup by combining 3 cups of water and 1 1/2 cups of sugar in a medium saucepan on the stove top. Heat and stir until all sugar is dissolved. Set aside simple syrup until cool. In the meantime, strain lemon peels from the vodka and discard the peels. When the simple syrup has cooled, add it to the lemony vodka. Cover again and let cure for at least another 5 days and up to two weeks before drinking. If you can remember, agitate the bottle once a day.
Keep your liquor in the freezer so that it's nice and cold whenever you are ready to serve it up.
Do you make your own Limoncello? P recently made Limoncello at home in Berkeley. It was delicious, but a little too sweet and without enough of a kick for me. We have yet to make this NY Times recipe, but it looks pretty darned good. When we get home, we'll experiment with some new batches. Maybe add some herbs. If you have any delicious tips to share with the rest of us, we'd love to hear...