I suppose this would have been a better summer post, but not much beats a crisp and sunny fall day than a glass of homemade limoncello by the water.   While in Italy, Nik and I got to sample about 20 different limoncellos from all over the country.  Our hands down favorite was at a little restaurant in Tuscany, who’s name eludes me (maybe a little too much drink already today).  What made this version special was that it didn’t taste super tradional, at least not to us.  When talking to the priorietor in broken Italian and him talking in broken English, we discovered the secret ingredient: vanilla.  Mmmm…vanilla.

I’ve been doing my research on the proper base for limoncello, and it seems split between 100 proof vodka, or Everclear.  Yeah baby, we ain’t in college making garbage pail punch anymore Everclear. The going trend is vodka is much more smooth, but is slower to make. I went the Everclear route because I could, and also thought it would extract the lemon flavor quicker.  If you know me, I don’t like waiting. Especially when it concerns getting my drink on.

I completely screwed up my intended proportions and not just a little bit (it was supposed to be twice as much Everclear for this citrus ratio).  The good news is this blend rocked and was so smooth that it’s my new recipe now bitches!


Makes 2 wine bottles of rocket fuel
  • 12 lemons, zested.  Use a microplane, you’ll thank me later.
  • 2 limes, zested (use the same microplane).  I use limes since the lemons in Italy are different than ours.  The going theory is a couple of limes in the mix fixes things.
  • 2 oranges, zested.  I used these just because I am an adult and I get to make my own decisions.  I say oranges.  Feel free to make your own adult decision here.
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) Everclear
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half



  • Zest all the fruit, the important thing is you want just the oily surface layer, the pith (white part of rind) is bitter so don’t use any. Plane away until you just get through the colored part.  Yes, it’s a pain in the ass, that’s why your neighbors don’t make limoncello!
  • Get a big jug and fill it with the zest, the Everclear and the vanilla bean
  • Store that puppy in a dark closet for a few weeks.  Swish it around once in a while
  • After you are sick of waiting, make a simple syrup by heating the water and sugar in a small saucepot until the sugar dissolves
  • Strain the Everclear/lemon stuff through a coffee filter into a pitcher
  • Add the simple syrup while its still a bit warm
  • Stir and add to two trendy bottles and place in freezer for a few days
  • There will likely be a smidge left over.  Chill this separately and drink that night. You’ll thank me for this too.

Enjoy, and chin chin.  Then chin chin some more.