I spent a few hours straining and straining liqueurs yesterday (in anticipation of the liqueurs book release–hey, there’s my first book plug. I’m shameless), which is always a good time. Especially because tasting them is an important part of the process. The ones I worked on started with limoncello, the sun king of liqueurs, and a favorite, and really the main impetus behind my whole crazy homemade liqueur obsession. It began when my wife Natalie and I went to Italy for the first time and had a lot of limoncello, both house-made and store bought, and fell in love with its strong-but-pleasant lemon-ness. Then, on returning home, we found that the available limoncellos here didn’t have the same backbone, and tended to be overly sweet. So, we thought, why not make our own? It’s devilishly simple, and allows a lot more control. We loved constructing it (and sipping it, ice cold, and pouring it into drinks) so much that we ended up throwing together a gigantic batch before our wedding, so we could give little bottles to everyone in attendance and spread the love around. You can see the lemons close up in the below photo–don’t they look a little tipsy?
Hanging out in grain alcohol (which is a must to reach that desired strength) for a month tends to induce tipsiness even among lemonkind, I suppose. The limoncello goes well solo, when ice cold, but is dreamy as well with club soda, and, in certain situations, when combined with other ingredients.
Millifiori (or, a million flowers) is another Italian-inspired liqueur, one that’s very herbally and spicy. In the close-up shot here, it may look like it contains worms, but have no fear worm champions–no worms were used in the making of this liqueur–it does have a little lemon zest in it, cozying up with a host of other items (including coriander, mint, cardamom, cloves, mace, marjoram, thyme), with an end result that’s very layered, and which has a number of flavorful notes coming through during a single sip.
It’s one to use carefully if experimenting with it cocktails and other drinks (I’m experimenting now, and hope to have a good recipe using it later in the blog).
Oh, the final liqueur I was working on today is fennel-based, and a completely new recipe for me (nice and simple, solely fennel, the liquor, and simple syrup). From my first tastings, it seems to have a good balance of sweet and fennel (let’s hope I didn’t go overboard on the sweet. It’s a dangerous road). We’ll see how it plays out.
Here’s the recipe for the limoncello, nice and delicious.
1 liter grain alcohol
3 cups simple syrup
1. Peel the lemons, working to leave the white pith with the lemon, and not taking it with the peels. Add the peels to a large, glass, container that is at least 2 liters in size and that has a good lid.
2. Add the grain alcohol to the glass container and then secure the lid. Place it on a cool and dry and secure shelf, away from the sun. Let it sit for two weeks.
3. Once the two weeks have passed, add the 3 cups simple syrup. Stir, lid, and let sit two more weeks.
4. After the waiting is over, strain the mix through double sheets of cheesecloth into a pitcher or other container.
5. Then, using new sheets of cheesecloth, strain the limoncello into bottles or jars.