I know what you’re thinking.
Well, I probably know two things you are thinking:
1. That I am obsessed with vodka.
2. That I misspelled lemoncello.

You might be at least a little bit right about both.

I am not usually obsessed with vodka, but this year, for Christmas, I am. I never knew the potential of “bootlegging” for gifts. Okay, so I’m not bootlegging, but I am sort of brewing things, aren’t I? Just not illegally.

And, no, I didn’t misspell lemoncello, but I thought I did – and I thought it was very convenient, because I had to use limes in my version.

What do you do when you are all set to make limoncello and then realize you are actually not all set because you are missing almost a quarter of the lemons you need?

First you do a panic dance that includes running around in tiny circles and flapping your arms.

Then you get a grip.

And add some limes.

You make lemon-lime-cello.

And instead of tasting like super spiked lemonade, it tastes like super-spiked 7-up (minus the bubbles).

Traditional limoncello is lemon liqueur. It can be sipped, mixed, or cut with some bubbly water. Mine is the same, but with a zip of lime in the recipe.

It pretty much made me want to dig out the glass cowboy boot mug from my childhood and fix myself a grown up Shirley Temple.
Pass me the club soda please (because the lemon-lime is going to come from the limoncello).
And a little OJ and grenadine.
And a maraschino cherry. . . . preferably on a little plastic sword.

Oh, wait! I was making this for gifts, wasn’t I?


Limoncello (takes 3 days to one week to make, total time)


9 lemons and 2 limes (or just 11 lemons if you want true Limoncello)
1 bottle (1 liter) 160-proof vodka (This is what the original recipe from Martha Stewart calls for, but I actually just used the vodka we already had on hand – which was 80-proof. . . . It’s okay if it’s not that strong!).
3 cups sugar
3 cups boiling water


Peel strips of zest from lemons and limes using a vegetable peeler; reserve remainder of lemons and limes for another use. Combine zest and vodka in an airtight container, and let stand at room temperature at least 2 days or up to 1 week.

Stir together sugar and water until sugar has dissolved; let cool completely. Stir sugar mixture into vodka mixture; refrigerate in an
airtight container overnight.

Pour liquid through a large sieve (discard zest), then pour through a funnel into airtight bottles. Limoncello can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Source: Martha Stewart, or you can find it in her Holiday Handbook 2011.

7 thoughts on “Limoncello

  1. These photos are so pretty and festive! I tried to make limoncello once and it did not go well. I used grain alcohol, which stripped finish off a table (on the plus side, I learned how to refinish furniture), and I guess I didn’t remove enough white pith, so it ended up a bit bitter. It’ll probably be a while before I try again, but this is inspiring!

    • This one was mildly bitter too – I don’t drink it solo. I prefer to add sparkling water, a splash of OJ, and a marachino cherry ;). Shirley temple all the way! I did not use grain alcohol or try to strip any furniture – that’s a tip I’ll keep in my back pocket!

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