Limoncello (sometimes called "lemoncello"liqueur is made by soaking lemon zests in neutral grain alcohol for a month or more. The result is a thick, sweet dessert cordial with an intense lemon flavor. It is traditionally an Italian liqueur but is also produced in other countries, including the United States, today. The two countries also consume it most often. While limoncello is customarily enjoyed on its own for dessert, it also makes a brilliant cocktail ingredient, prized for its sweet, citrusy flavor that makes equally delicious mixed drinks.

Limoncello originated in Italy over a century ago and is most often produced in the southern part of the country, including the Naples area. Today it is made in the U.S. and other countries as well.


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Limoncello is made by steeping lemon zest in a grain alcohol that is similar to vodka. This extracts the oils and infuses the lemon flavor into the liquor. Sorrento lemons are common in Italian limoncello while American-made versions tend to use California lemons. Since lemon peels are used, organic fruit is often preferred in order to avoid possible contamination from pesticides and other chemicals. Once infused, the liquor is then blended with simple syrup to obtain the desired balance of citrus flavor and sweetness. It's also common to clarify limoncello to make it less cloudy, though even this method retains limoncello's signature yellow color. Most limoncello is bottled between 28 percent and 32 percent alcohol by volume (ABV, 56 to 64 proof).

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