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Digestifs are big in this country. An after-dinner sip of cognac or port makes sense to me — a little boozy punch in the face to get you off to dreamland a little easier, and maybe get the cheese funk off your breath.

Tim’s a cognac man. I am… well, I have a bigger sweet tooth than he does. While he often takes a post-dinner glass of Courvoisier, I wanted something a little less burney on the way down, and after leaving my beer brewing supplies in the states, I missed the experimentation in the make-your-own adult-type beverages department.

So, homemade limoncello. Limoncello is an Italian liqueur that’s usually made with Femminello St. Teresa lemons, but regular lemons will do just fine. It’s a bright, clear yellow and tastes like sunshine, or super-concentrated alcoholic lemonade. It’s what I’m going to be sipping this summer after too-rich charcuterie or a pungent fromage plate.

Homemade Limoncello

Adapted from Bon Appétit.

Makes about 52 ounces.

4 cups vodka
10 organic lemons
3 cups sugar


Using very hot water, scrub the lemons well with a bristle brush.

Dry the lemons, then zest them using a microplane zester or the coarse side of a box grater. make sure to get as much of the yellow zest as possible without getting any of the white pith, which will make the liqueur taste bitter.

In either a large bottle or two large mason jars, mix the zest with the vodka. Leave in a cool, dark place (but not the refrigerator) for at least one week. Agitate the bottle or jars every few days.

Combine the sugar and 3 cups of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, then allow to cool to room temperature.

Mix the sugar solution with the vodka and lemon zest. Allow to rest for one more week.

Strain the limoncello through a fine-mesh strainer, then through a coffee filter. Discard the zest. Keep chilled in jars or bottles for up to one month, or in the freezer for up to three months.


Those pale, naked lemons you just zested will get dry and withered in no time without their oily zest to protect them. Make sure you juice them immediately and make a big pitcher of lemonade, or you can freeze it into cubes for later use.

Music to cook by: I Was Made For Sunny Days [The Weepies // Be My Thrill]