Limoncello is among the most delectable of Italian liqueurs, but beyond the characteristic hue of cloudy gold, the beauty of this citrus elixir lies in its simplicity. It brings together nothing more than alcohol, citrus, water and sugar. Traditionally, this liqueur is homemade, so bottle your own batch to sip yourself or gift to your favorite people.

Wash and Zest

You’ll need about eight lemons. Choose the highest quality fruit you can get, preferably organic. Wash in warm water, then zest or peel, avoiding the bitter pith.

Let Steep 

Place your peels in a large glass jar or container and add 3 cups of your local base spirit (like vodka) of choice. Let macerate in a cool, dark place for anywhere from 1 week to a month or more (the longer the better).

Add Simple Syrup

Heat 3 cups water and 3 cups sugar, stirring attentively until it begins to boil. Remove from heat and let cool, then add this syrup to the infusion. Let sit for at least another week or more, tasting occasionally until you’re satisfied.

Strain and Bottle

Strain your concoction through a cheesecloth and into bottles (like these) with the help of a funnel. If you like, add a few fresh curls of lemon peel to each bottle for aesthetic effect, then cap tightly. Add an extra touch with a note to the recipient on a heart-shaped, Portland-made paper tag and attach to the bottle.

Enjoy!

Limoncello is fantastic in cocktails: Check out these from Seattle’s Letterpress Distilling or these from Eugene’s Crescendo Spirits. The tipple is also easily enjoyed over ice cream and — the classic method — served icy-cold on its own.

This article originally ran in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Sip Northwest magazine. For the full story and more like it, click here.