Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Homemade Limoncello

This was another gift from Mrs Cake at Christmas. It’s an Italian liqueur made from the zest of lemons, and as such is sweet rather than sour. The zest is steeped in grain alcohol until the oil is released, and the liquid is then mixed with syrup. Mrs Cake tells me she put the zest in a bottle of vodka and then added sugar, which to my mind is tantamount to the same thing.

If you’ve ever been to Italy, you might have been tempted to spend a few euros on a bottle of this at the airport. If you’re like me, you didn’t and promptly forgot all about it.

I’m glad then, that Mrs Cake came up with this idea, because it means I can find out what it’s like without having to part with any funds for it. And what I have found out is that I’m glad I never bothered buying it. I’m not saying it’s horrible, but… it isn’t very nice.

I tried first of all, drinking it over ice but it isn’t pleasant enough for that, so it looked like I’d have to get back into making cocktails for a bit. Luckily I have become fairly adept at just throwing things together, and while I don’t have too much time for the science of mixology these days, it’s useful to be able to create drinks from time to time.

If there is one thing to say in favour of limoncello, it is that it has the versatility to mix with numerous different spirits. I consulted my various cocktail books for ideas, but they were surprisingly bereft of recipes, so I had to take it upon myself to fly blind. I found it goes well with pomegranate juice, pineapple juice, the various types of rum and even tequila and gin.

It is somewhat ironic though, that one particular thing I have found is that, whatever you make with your limoncello, it is essential that you add lemon juice to the final concoction. Limoncello just lacks that citrus bite that makes cocktails so enjoyable. It seems a shame to use lemons for creating a liqueur that doesn’t have the essential character of a lemon in it, such that you have to put it back in yourself but… hey-ho.

So I did have one or two notable successes with my creations, and the details are as follows…

Limoncello and Pomegranate

This has become a particular favourite of Mrs Cake. I wouldn’t be surprised it she made another batch of the sticky, lemony substance so that she can drink it through the summer. The dry bitterness of the pomegranate is an ideal accompaniment. Just add a dash of lemon juice or squeeze a wedge of lime into it to top it off.

Lemon Curd Coctail (tm)
Lemon Curd Cocktail – 2x rum, 2x limoncello, 3x pineapple juice, lemon juice to taste.

I have named this after the famous variety of tart because it is uncannily similar.

Scotch and Limoncello – 2x blended scotch whisky, 2x limoncello

This discovery came when I decided I’d best see how limoncello mixes with all the spirits for the purpose of this post. In theory it can’t be that far away from a whisky sour, really. I still have to admit being surprised at how good it is. I used the Waitrose brand scotch that was left over from the supermarket blend battle and decided to start with equal measures. That proved just right – as long as a little lemon juice was added.

One to try in the future…

Wikipedia helpfully signs off with a recipe for a cocktail called Viagroncello, so I may as well do the same. It seems this one has been said to have arousing effects – not that I need any of those. Sounds like bollocks to me, but it’s probably worth a try. For this you need sambuca, chili pepper and mint, though quantities are not specified. I can’t actually imagine myself buying a bottle of Sambuca any time soon, so I’m just going to go straight into the conclusion which is… limoncello is decent for mixing. I wouldn’t buy it, but I can find a use for it. That is all.

Next week it is planned that the post will be a comparison I did between two types of brandy some time ago, but there’s a chance I never actually wrote it, and it’s far too late to do so now – both are long gone. So, join me next week to see if I did write anything about that, or if I find something else to tell you about. 

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