One of my original cocktail experiments, before I even knew they were cocktail experiments, was making homemade limoncello in college. I had tasted it a couple times and, due to my deep love of lemon anything, was immediately hooked. I remember that first batch, made with lemons peeled with a vegetable peeler, steeped for weeks in overproof vodka and generally okay. Not amazing, but good enough to keep me trying. I’ve since refined my recipe quite a bit (more on that later) and was making up a new batch a couple weeks ago.
I had a bottle of limoncello in my freezer (that’s where it should be kept by the way) from my previous batch and wanted to do something fresh, crisp and summery with it. Limoncello lemonade was the clear winner, but it needed some spice. Inspiration came in the form of fresh herbs which are now blossoming all around.
The first batch we mixed up used basil which was fantastic with the lemon. Next we tried thyme. A good flavor choice but kind of a pain in the ass with the small leaves. If you’re going to try that one use whole sprigs instead of leaves. Then came tarragon. The licorice notes went really well with the sweetness of the drink and sourness of the lemons. Latest, but not last and certainly not least was mint. It seems almost too easy, but this one worked really really well. The almost cooling character of the mint went with the theme of a crisp summer cooler fantastically. What’s next on the docket? There are no limits. How about rosemary, oregano, varietals of the above (lemon thyme, spearmint, etc)…please let me know what you try. Oh, and I’d hope this goes without saying, but if you’re not an herb person or don’t have any around, skip them. The drink is still damn good without any herbage.
Herbs (optional) 1 1/2 oz Limoncello 1 1/2 oz Lemon Juice Soda Water
1) Muddle herbs, or not 2) Combine limoncello and lemon juice 3) Top with soda water
I’d suggest you try to sip it slowly and watch the world go by, but the reality is, you should just be ready to make another one in short order.