Cleanse the pallet with this lemon liqueur.
Smooth but untamed, limoncello's perfection is in it's balance between liquor and lemon. Too strong and it suddenly becomes a labor to drink; too weak and you might as well be drinking lemonade. What you want is an after-dinner drink that people will talk about long after the taste has left their mouths. All you need is five simple ingredients, lots of lemons, two months and a good deal of patience.
Everclear/grain alcohol (one handle)
Vodka (one handle)
Sugar (4 cups)
1. Skin the lemons and store the drink in a cool, dark place for a month.
The most important step: skinning the lemons. You only want the yellow layer of the skin; including the white part in the mix will yield a bitter product. Use a paring knife to get as much yellow and as little white rind as possible. Zesting the lemons works too, but it's harder to separate the zest from the actual drink, and you will inevitably end up with a pulpy drink.
After fashioning your lemons, drop the peels into a large container, preferably one with a spout on it to make distribution easier. Pour the liquor into the container and close it. Let this mixture sit covered at room temperature for about a month and keep it in a cool dark place. Note: the longer the mixture sits, the sweeter the end product will be.
2. Add vodka, grain alcohol and sugar and let it sit for another month.
There are a number of limoncello recipes out there, and they all suggest using different combinations of liquor. Some call for plain vodka or 100-proof vodka, and others call for grain alcohol and water. For a milder taste, they may use vodka and nothing else, while others are undoubtedly pouring Everclear into a lemonade bottle and loving it. The mixture of equal parts grain alcohol and vodka makes for a very smooth, yet strong drink. It's a good starting point.
The same goes for the sugar mixture: it should be adapted to your particular taste, but here's a good starting point. Mix four cups of sugar with five cups of water and bring it to a boil in a sauce pan. Boil it for five to seven minutes, or until it is a syrup, then let it cool. Mix the cooled syrup into the liquor, which will have turned yellow from the lemons. Then, cover the mixture again and let it sit for another month. Once again, the longer the mixture sits, the sweeter it will end up.
3. You're done! Bottle it.
Finally, once all is said and done, you'll need to bottle it. You can find bottles on the internet or in a restaurant supply store as long as they seal tightly, preferably with a cork. If you have a container with a spou,t then simply use it to fill the bottles; if not, you'll have to strain the peels out of the liquor before you pour. You can use coffee filters, cheesecloth, or a metal strainer depending on how big the peels are. Once bottled, the only thing left to do is think of a name or label design and take an ice-cold bottle or two to your next dinner party. Just make sure there is no question about who made the delicious limoncello.