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Jan 13, 2008 05:49 PM

Limoncello- WTF???

I'd heard Mario Batali and Giada DeLairentiis singing the praises of limoncello, so when I saw some at Costco I bought it. Of course, Mario and probably Giada have access to time-honored Italian homemade family recipes, if not product, but I have to send out a general query- is it just me, or is limoncello supposed to taste the way Lemon Pledge smells? It was made in Italy, for what that's worth, and ir smells and even looks pretty awful. I'm rarely disappointed in liquor normally. I can't picture putting it in anything I'd want to drink but i'm certainly open to suggestion.

Frankly it smells more like lemongrass than lemon zest.

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  1. What brand? just like anything else, there are good ones and bad ones. Homemade is best. Also how did you drink it? it should be served ice cold straight from the freezer, preferably in frosted glasses.

    7 Replies
    1. re: JMF

      In addition to JMF's important advice (put it in the freezer) and experience (there are good ones and no-so-good ones), have you considered...

      Maybe you just don't like it!? Just because Mario Batali and Giada DeLairentiis like it, you have to?

        1. re: JMF

          Been told that Italians always make there own. And, I've also found that I don't like any of the store brands that I've purchased (too sweet, even when ice cold). But, about a year ago, I found something that I do really like. In my mind it's limoncello, but it's made from grappa (maybe that's why I like it). Can someone explain if this would be considered limoncello?

          Bortolo Nardini "Acqua di Cedro"

          Edit: Oops, my bad. Description says it is made from grain alcohol. Don't know why I had a different idea.

          1. re: jman1

            Cedro is Citron, not a lemon. It is a very old type of citrus with an exceptionally thick rind that is often candied and used in holiday breads and cakes, and the oil is often used in perfumes. So, while this is similar to a limoncello since it is a citrus based liqueur, it is definitely its own beast.

            I am not sure if this liqueur is a distillate of citron, where the citron is thrown in the still with grain alcohol and distilled to produce a clear base spirit to which sugar is added. Or if the citron is infused into the grain spirit like limoncello, and then filtered clear. I think it may be the former. I haven't tasted this product, but it sounds like a cleaner, more aromatic liqueur than limoncello is.

            1. re: JMF

              Citron also = etrog; according to Wikipedia. Used on a Jewish holiday.

              Nardini describes this as a liqueur, which I take to mean that it's been flavored as opposed to distilled.

              1. re: jman1

                Liqueurs can be infused, flavored, distilled, macerated, etc. What makes them a liqueur is the added sugar, and usually at a max of 80 proof, but usually lower. I think it may possibly be distilled, because it is clear.

                1. re: JMF

                  Thanks for the info. In any case, it's quite good. I treat it like a limoncello (i.e. keep it in the freezer and sip a small amount after dinner). Less sweet, but more pricey.

        2. It can also be made at home, and can be quite good.

          1. If Danny DeVito knows his limoncello and you are easily starstruck, ' ... there's a taste of life from this famous fellow ...' . Why Johnny Bench is there I don't know.

            Danny promoting his booze :

            1. When I make it at home, it often has a slight brownish-tinge, and also a rather peculiar, fermented/rotten smell. This is normal: I do this whenever I can get ahold of Meyer lemons. Try tasting it: I think you will find it tastes much better than it smells.
              Or, make your own:
              1) buy a zester
              2) remove the zest from 3 supermarket lemons
              3) place into 1 c. of cheap vodka
              4) shake/stir daily for about 2 weeks
              5) add 1/2 c. of simple syrup (50-50 mix of white sugar and water), or to taste
              6) try not to drink it all up in one sitting

              8 Replies
              1. re: jerry i h

                I just put up a whole bottle yesterday, I can wait to try it!! WInter is long in the NE, but this will just make it longer...

                1. re: jerry i h

                  I neglected to mention that I was using the traditional Italian recipe: soak entire lemons in vodka + simple syrup. Inevitably, one of the lemons would turn brown and give the smell, color, and taste an off-note. I think this comes from a small break in the skin that allows vodka to get in and lemon juice to get out. I no longer make it this way, and now use the recipe given, which uses only the zest. It does not look as cool sitting on your counter, but the flavor is better.

                  1. re: jerry i h

                    I would recommend the following recipe:

                    zest of 12-20 organic lemons
                    zest of one lime
                    1 bottle 100 proof vodka
                    1 bottle of 80 proof vodka

                    Mix the first three ingredients let sit in a mason jar in a dark cool place for 45 days. Shake container every day.

                    after 45 days strain zest using a coffee filter or a cheese cloth. add 80 proof let sit for 2 wks.

                    Many people add the simple syrup while adding the 80 proof. I usually don't add any choosing instead to add it to the individual drink I am preparing.

                    An even better option than limoncello is using blood oranges.

                    1. re: jerry i h

                      Actually, it tasted like Lemon Pledge smells, too.

                      1. re: jerry i h

                        HELP ! Ive peeled my lemons, ive had the peels in the Everclear for a month and the mix is still clear, will it change color? How much simple syrup do i make,, and when do i ad it? I have 750 of Everclear,,,,

                        1. re: slickk

                          how much lemon peel to how much everclear? Sounds like way too little peel.

                          1. re: slickk

                            My last batch of limoncello used 15 lemons to about 1 cup of everclear. It only took 3 days before the mix was ready to strain. You don't really need a recipe, just zest a ton of lemons and use enough everclear to barely cover the zest.

                            1. re: slickk

                              Try peeling 7 lemons for 1,000 ml alcohol/vodka/grappa

                          2. Most commercial Limoncellos taste like Lemon Pledge to me. I found one that doesn't, but it was a tiny airplane-size bottle (bought when I was travelling) and I don't remember what it was. Tragic.

                            If anyone has recommendations for a specific brand of commercial Limoncello that is non-Pledge-like, I would love to hear about it. Making my own would require the ability to plan ahead - something I've always been very poor at doing.


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: AnneInMpls

                              I haven't tried it yet, but the Devito one is supposed to be excellent. He asked the maker of one of the best limoncellos in Italy to make it for him and after much persuading he did. I heard the story from an inside source who has tried it and thought it very good. I should be getting a sample to review sometime soon.