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.


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.