If you've ever had limoncello, you definitely remember it.
Usually served in America as a digestivo after a big, hearty meal, it is like lemon rocket fuel in the best way. Instantly, you forget your over-indulgence in the food, as the hyperbolically citrusy stuff works its magic. We've seen the usual methods for making homemade limoncello before, but our jaws absolutely dropped when we read Toby Cecchini's "Presto Chango Limoncello" on The New York Times' blog.
Cecchini's visit to Portland, Oregon's Nostrana was capped by a taste of the house-made limoncello. It appears even he didn't know what he had stumbled upon.
Upon entering Nostrana, I had filed past its impressively towering bar and noticed, without knowing what I was looking at, a number of huge, covered glass urns with odd muslin hammocks hanging within, suspended above a few inches of liquid. Hmm, I pondered, some kind of nutty amaro experiments going on there? This is Portland, after all, where the only form of slacking that draws opprobrium is not making your own bitters, vermouths, tinctures and amari. After one sip of this beguiling, clearish-amber limoncello, which was eye-poppingly citric, with a force and clarity of flavor I’d never experienced in this drink before, I wandered back up to that bar to inquire about the recipe. Enter those strange jars.
After seeking some guidance from both the similarly beguiled bartender and Cocktail Kingdom guru Don Lee, they determined that the process basically entails suspending citrus over high-proof alcohol, without letting the two elements ever actually touch. Once sealed, the high volatility of the booze begins to leech out the pure oils from the citrus, with no bitterness from pith or membrane. After nine weeks, with the addition of some sugar for sweetness and water to take the proof down a bit, you've (amazingly) got limoncello.
Does this work? It appears to! We are obviously going to try it and promise to let you know. If anyone has any tips, we'd love to hear them in the comments!