Piano, Piano with Limoncello Part 2

April 7, 2010

When one talks about time and consumer products, one can actually see a similarity in both. The longer we wait for products, the bigger the anticipation. Also, when some consumer products age, they get better as time goes by. A good future of a Bordeaux wine and a good cognac are just some of the many consumer products that get better over time. This idea about time and consumer products can be related in the process of making limoncello. The longer you let the lemon peals sit in the everclear, the more lemon flavor you will be able to get in your final product.

We left our infusion sit in a cool, dark place for about 3 to 4 weeks, stirring it 2 or 3 times a week. Now is time to begin the second part in the making of limoncello. Here are the steps to follow:

1.     Grab your second container that fits roughly about 2 liters of liquid and place a funnel over it. Pour the infusion with the peals and the everclear through the funnel, avoiding any peals or sediments entering the second container. I recommend placing a strainer over the funnel and pouring the infusion through it. By doing so, you are sure that no small pieces of lemon peals have entered the second container. After you have poured the infusion in the second container, you can throw away the peals used in the making of the limoncello. You end up with the bright golden color liquid, high proof in alcohol and with the delicious aroma of lemon.

2.     Set aside the lemon infused everclear for now. In a saucepan, place 750mL of water and 750 grams of sugar and bring it up to a boil to make a 1:1 (equal parts of water and sugar) simple syrup. Stir the liquid and make sure that all of the sugar is dissolved. When the simple syrup is boiling, take it out of the heat and set it aside to cool. ATTENTION: You must let the simple syrup cool before combining the lemon infused everclear and the simple syrup.

3.     After the simple syrup has cooled to about room temperature, incorporate the lemon infusion with the simple syrup and just like that you have limoncello.

4.     One way that you could store your limoncello is by either using the same bottle of everclear and pouring in your limoncello or by buying empty bottles at your local supermarket. With the ingredients we have used, you end up roughly with about 1 to 1.5 liters of limoncello.

After I finished making my limoncello, I decided to go to my local liquor store and bought a mid price bottle of limoncello. The differences are pretty big. Starting with the color. The limoncello I bought at the liquor store has a very light yellow/green color. At first, I thought that it was going to be bright golden color, but the funny thing is that the bottle itself gives some color and when the liquid is poured is when you notice the opaque color. The limoncello that you will hopefully make has a cloudy golden color. When poured into small shot glasses next to each other, you can totally notice the difference between the purchased and homemade limoncello.

Obviously, the most important aspect of the limoncello is the flavor. The purchased limoncello has a sweet candy smell and flavor. Is like you are smelling and sucking on a lemon flavor candy. After swallowed, the lemon flavor goes away pretty quickly. On the other hand, the homemade limoncello has a sweet aroma of lemons. Is like you are holding in your hands a lemon and smelling it. On the tongue, instead of biting on a sour lemon, it tastes like you are eating a sweet lemon. The flavor stays medium-long inside your mouth. Regarding the alcohol by volume of the homemade limoncello, I compared it to the one I bought at the liquor store. The purchased limoncello was 26% ABV and the homemade limoncello is lighter on the alcohol. I would place it between 20% and 25% ABV. I hope you consider making your own limoncello and hope you enjoy it like I still am.

Piano, Piano with Limoncello Part 1

April 6, 2010

There is an Italian saying that simple goes: “Piano, Piano.” No, it doesn’t mean go play the piano or you see a piano and scream its name. “Piano, Piano” stands for doing things with care, taking time to do something in an organized manner and/or slowly, so the ending result can be perfect. This procedure of doing things with care and with time in one’s hands can be put into action when one decides to make limoncello.

Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur mainly produced in the Southern part of Italy from the Sorrento lemon (any lemon would suffice). Limoncello is traditionally served chilled after dinner as a digestivo. The great thing about limoncello is that any one could make their own limoncello from the comfort of their home. You don’t have to have Sorrento lemons and you don’t have to be from the Southern part of Italy to be able to make limoncello. The only thing that requires you to have in the process of making limoncello is “Piano, Piano”; patience and time.

Ingredients and Utensils:

15 medium/large sized Lemons

One bottle of Everclear 750mL (if everclear is not available is your area, vodka would work just fine)

750 grams of sugar

750 mL of water

One air sealed container could roughly fit 1.5 liters of liquid.

One container that could roughly fit 2 liters of liquid.

A funnel.

One pan to boil and make simple syrup.

A sharp knife


1.     With a sharp knife, cut the peel out of the 15 lemons. In this step you have a couple of options regarding the white pit of the lemons. If you like a bitter flavor in your limoncello, leave a very thin layer of white pit on your lemon peels. If you don’t like a bitter flavor on your limoncello, cut out as much of the white pit as possible.

Lemon Peels

2.     After you’ve completely peeled the lemons, you are left with 15 lemons without a peel. You can juice the lemons and freeze the juice for any further drinks you might make in the future. Also, another good idea is using the juice of the 15 lemons and make a delicious lemonade, now that summer is just ahead of us.

3.     Place the peels of the 15 lemons in the air sealed container with the bottle (750mL) of Everclear (or vodka). Seal the container and place it in a cool and dark place. Here is where the saying “Piano, Piano” comes into play. You can’t rush this process. Some people leave the peels to infuse with the everclear for only a week. That is not enough time for all of the oils from the peels get acquainted with the liquid. If you are making limoncello for the first time, I recommend leaving the infusion in a cold, dark place between 3-4 weeks, stirring it 2 or 3 times a week. The end result will be a delicious bomb of lemon flavor.

Note: As you can tell, not all of the ingredients and utensils were used in this post. Wait for Part 2 to find out how to use the rest of the ingredients and utensils.


Grenadine and the BACARDI Cocktail

February 25, 2010

Let me ask you a question regarding two different sets of ingredients. Which of the following set of ingredients would you rather consume: 1) High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Citric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Red 40, Blue 1 or 2) 100% Pomegranate Juice and Sugar? Personally, I rather consume the product that has the least amount of chemicals (or no chemicals what so ever). Its safer, healthier and most importantly, it tastes better. Choice number one was the set of ingredients of grenadine syrup that you pick up at the supermarket or your local liquor store. Extremely sweet, overpoweringly reddish and lacking the delicious flavor of pomegranates. The second set of ingredients I gave you was a homemade version of grenadine syrup; just two simple ingredients that you can pick up on your next trip to the supermarket or convenience store.

Recipe for Homemade Grenadine

1 cup of granulated sugar

1 cup of POM 100% pomegranate juice

Procedure: Get yourself a large flask or bottle and place both, the sugar and the pomegranate juice inside. Seal the flask or bottle and get ready to shake. When I say shake, I mean shake it like you mean it! Shake until you are able to see that there is no sugar left at the bottom of the flask or bottle. Also, here are a few additions that you might want to add to your homemade grenadine: 1) After the shaking is done and you use your grenadine for the first time, you are going to notice that the red color of the syrup is a little weak. I recommend (but not required) adding between 15-25 drops of red food coloring to wake up the red inside the grenadine. 2) To preserve the grenadine for up 6-8 weeks in your refrigerator, I would add 2oz. grain alcohol (if grain alcohol isn’t available for you, vodka will work just fine).

Now you may ask yourself, way would I bother making it myself when I can just buy the finished product? Well a couple of reasons why the homemade version is best. First, you are able to control the ingredients that you use. You know that you are using 100% pomegranate juice and sugar. Freshness is always a plus. Second, you are able to control the sweetness of the syrup. You can add a little more sugar (I personally add two extra ounces to mine) to make the syrup more to your liking. And third, you are probably getting more quality for your money.

A great cocktail that you can use your very own homemade grenadine syrup is the BACARDI Cocktail, a spiced up version of the daiquiri, which can only be made with Bacardi Superior Rum. Yes, in 1936 the state of New York proclaimed that the BACARDI Cocktail could only be made with Bacardi Superior.

BACARDI Cocktail

1.5 oz. Bacardi Superior Rum

1 oz. Simple Syrup

1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice

4 dashes of your homemade Grenadine Syrup

Procedure: Place all ingredients inside your shaker filled with ice. Shake until the tin part of your shaker is frosted. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

This is one of those cocktails that you can change up the measurements of your ingredients to your taste. Instead of using the simple syrup, you can substitute it for a full ounce of your homemade grenadine syrup. Also, you can change the amount of acidity to sweetness by adding or taking away .25 ounces of the lime juice. But always remember that in a BACARDI Cocktail you always use Bacardi Superior Rum. Enjoy!!!

The Apricot Jammin

February 8, 2010

Even though the Internet is full of bloggers that share their knowledge regarding cocktail and spirits, you might also like to watch how cocktails are being prepared. A great source for watching bartending and cocktail making videos is Youtube. *WARNING* Some videos on Youtube are hosted by so called “bartenders” that think they know how to make the cocktail that you are looking for.  If, for example, a video is showing you how to make a Gin & Tonic and instead of Tonic, the bartender uses seltzer water or the bartender decides to pick his/her nose in the middle of the video, you might want to disregard that video and that Youtube user, lets say… FOREVER!!! Now, if you are watching a video where the bartender is a great mixologist, such as Tony Abou-Ganim, Dale Degroff or Jamie Boudreau (just to name a few), you are sure to receive a great instructional video on making the cocktail of your choice.

About 3 months ago, as I searched the word “cocktails” in Youtube, I stumbled upon a cocktail that I could have never have imagined and it wasn’t until a few days ago that I decided to give this cocktail a sample. This cocktail is prepared by none other that the great bartender and flair master, Dean Serneels. What do I mean by saying that I could have never imagined this cocktail? Well, when one of the ingredients for the cocktail is vanilla bean smoke, you could have said the same thing I did. Along side the vanilla bean smoke, the Apricot Jammin asks for apricot jam, Jack Daniel’s, apricot brandy, simple syrup and lemon juice.

Apricot Jammin

1 tsp. Apricot Jam

1 oz. Jack Daniels

.5 oz. Apricot Brandy

1 oz. Simple Syrup

1 oz. Lemon Juice

Vanilla Bean Smoke

Procedure: Inside your boston shaker, place the apricot jam, Jack Daniels, Apricot brandy, simple syrup and lemon juice. With a barspon, disolve the jam and incorporate it with the rest of the ingredients. After you have dissolved the jam, shake the ingredients with ice until you see frost on the outside of your boston shaker. With a torch lighter, burn the tip of a vanilla bean. On a surface top place your glass part of your boston shaker upside down and place the smoking vanilla bean inside of it. Let the smoke coat the inside of the glass for about 15 seconds. After the 15 seconds have passed, grab your boston shaker tin and shake all the ingredients again with the vanilla bean smoke. After shaking, double strain the cocktail into a rocks glass with ice and garnish with a thin lemon wafer.

When you smell this cocktail at first, you are going to immediately smell that beautiful, sweet vanilla aroma. When you get to have your first sip of the cocktail, prepare to be confused. At first, you are going to taste that sweet and delicious apricot, which has been perfectly paired with the toastiness of the Jack Daniels. Then, when you swallow the drink, you get that sweet, vanilla smoke taste at the back of your tongue. A sweet and smoky cocktail for your enjoyment.

Pacharan and A Cloud Over Navarra

February 1, 2010

During these past Holidays, I was fortunate enough to travel abroad and spend some needed time away from school and close to my family. We decide to take a short 2-hour plane ride to the Dominican Republic, where my aunt and uncle live. I’ve been to the Dominican Republic twice already, and every time I go back, I enjoy the trip even more. From the difference in cultures to the Mofongo (If you know what Mofongo is, you know what I’m talking about), from the merengue to the driving skills one must have to drive around Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic is a great holiday getaway for me.

Whenever I’m abroad, I like to go to the local or nearest liquor store to find some spirits that I haven’t heard of. But, if you go to a liquor store in Santo Domingo on a Friday night, you are in for a culture shock. In Miami, whenever I’m low on some liquor from my home bar, I just take my car, go to the liquor store, buy the liquor and go home. In Santo Domingo, things are a little different. One Friday evening, while we were driving around Santo Domingo, I ask my aunt to take me to a liquor store she knew. She said no problem. As we approached the liquor store, the contagious rhythm of merengue was getting louder and louder. When we finally got to the store, people were having a great time listening and dancing to merengue, and drinking. Yup, drinking outside a liquor store. From what I’ve heard from my cousin is that people, for example, buy a bottle of Brugal and a 2-litter bottle of Coke in the store, turn up the radio from their cars and create a get-together outside the liquor store. Ahhh, I wish the day that could happen in Miami. But anyways, back to the point. When I entered the store I looked and looked until I find a spirit I had never heard of, Pacharan.

Pacharan is a liqueur that is commonly drunk in Navarra, Spain. It is made from sloe berries. Now, don’t get confused. Pacharan and sloe gin are different liqueurs. Pacharan is made from the maceration of sloe berries in an anise-flavored spirit. They are macerated in a cool place for about 7 to 8 months and then reduced with sugar. The Pacharan from Navarra has to have a red or intense pink color and an alcohol content of 25% – 30%. On the other hand, sloe gin uses the same sloe berries, which have been prickled, placed in a jar with sugar, gin, few cloves, cinnamon and almond essence. The mixture will turn red and for a full extraction a flavor, enough sugar has to be used.

After walking around the liquor store twice, along with the Pacharan, I decided to buy a bottle Ron Barceló Gran Platinum and with the help of sugar syrup, lime juice, Angostura Bitters and egg white, I created “A Cloud Over Navarra”

A Cloud Over Navarra

2 oz. Pacharan (I used La Navarra)

1 oz. Light Rum (I used Ron Barceló Gran Platinum)

.5 oz. Sugar Syrup (See recipe below)

.5 oz. Lime Juice

2 Dashes of Angostura Bitters

1 Egg White

Procedure: Place all ingredients inside a boston shaker and dry shake (no ice) to aerate the egg white and create a foam. After a good 10 second shake, place ice inside your shaker and shake for at least 15 seconds or until frost forms on the outside of your tin. Strain with a Hawthorn strainer into a pre-chilled cocktail glass and serve.

Simple Syrup Recipe:

1 cup of water

1 cup of sugar

Place ingredients in a sauce pan and let it simmer on medium heat for about 5-10 minutes or until all the sugar has dissolved. After the sugar has dissolved, pour ingredients into a bottle and place it in your fridge. Don’t use the simple syrup before one hour has passed. The simple syrup will last several weeks in your refrigerator.

Hello from The Drinksologist!

February 1, 2010

Hello everyone!

Let me tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Diego and I live in Miami, Florida. I’m a student at the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Florida International University. Currently, I’m a bartender at a catering company in Miami and there is nothing else I love more than making drinks. I’m creating this blog to share and spread the love I have about making cocktails to the world.

In this blog, The Drinksologist, you will find a lot of useful information about the world that surrounds cocktails and spirits. This blog’s main focus will be about cocktails of the past, present and some of my own creations, and how they are prepared and what ingredients are used in them. Also, I will share with you some recipes where you, in the convenience of your own home, will be able to create your own spirits and ingredients. Finally, there is a new trend that is going around in the world of cocktails, which is molecular mixology. I will dive in this new world to share with you some fun and interactive ways to fashion up new cocktails and create twists on some of the favorites that are already known.

Hopefully you will enjoy the drinks I make and the information I share. Sincerely…

The Drinksologist