Friday, 13 June 2014

Cocktail(s) of the month: limoncello adventures

It's cocktail of the month time on Flavour. In case you don't have this exciting date marked in your diary, the programme is on air on Saturday the 14th at 12pm. It is full of food news and features in addition to my cocktail ramblings.

For this month's cocktail (well actually two cocktails but we'll get to that in a minute) I've been playing around with limoncello. Now, if you are like me you'll probably be thinking "Limoncello? That disgusting sweet stuff I get free in dodgy restaurants and only drink because I desperately need more alcohol to attempt to cope my life choices?" Yes that stuff. I had a sneaky suspicion it might not be so awful when it was homemade and that it might just make a very handy cocktail ingredient. I had to try it out.

The limoncello itself was easy to make (the recipe is below), it's a great place to start infusing spirits. Of course you could always buy some, that is perfectly OK with me. But if you're looking for something to do on a Sunday afternoon that doesn't involve lying in bed watching The Good Wife and mainlining chocolate then you can't really go wrong with making limoncello.

So today I have two very simple cocktail recipes for you using the limoncello. The first is another cocktail that is perfect for drinking in the sun. It's refreshing and full of flavour but light enough in alcohol that you can drink plenty of it. It turns out that basil and limoncello is a life-affirming combination (it really is that good). The second cocktail is perfect for a party. Mixing limoncello, lemon juice and sparkling wine, it's reminiscent of a French 75 but without that drink's sharp edges.

limoncello and basil cooler (serves one)

30mL limoncello (for recipe see below)
15mL freshly squeezed lemon juice
approx 10 fresh basil leaves
sparkling water
lemon slices to garnish

Muddle the basil leaves and the lemon juice in a tall glass with a large spoon or a pestle. Add the limocello, stir and then fill the glass with ice. Top up with sparkling water. Garnish with a couple of lemon slices. I recommend a straw for drinking this one.

cheat's sweet French 75 (serves one)

30mL limoncello (for recipe see below)
30mL freshly squeezed lemon juice
sparkling wine (I used cheap cava and it was grand)
lemon twist to garnish

Add the limoncello and the lemon juice to a champagne flute or coupe, top up with sparkling wine. Garnish with a piece of lemon zest or lemon twist.


4 lemons
500mL vodka
approximately 500mL simple syrup (plain or infused. I used lemon balm infused syrup as I had some in the fridge and I was too lazy to make some plain stuff. It worked beautifully.)

Using a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife, remove the zest from the lemons and place them into a glass Kilner jar. If you can, try to avoid the bitter white pith. Top up the jar with your vodka and seal. Leave it to infuse for about a week. After a week of infusing, strain out the lemon zest and add the simple syrup. I would add it slowly and taste as you go (try not to get too pissed). You might like it more or less sweet than me. It's up to you. Once you are happy with the level of sweetness, pour into a sterilized bottle. It should keep for a year or two. I store mine in the fridge so it's ready for use.

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