If you do a Google Search online, you’ll quickly find there are dozens (if not hundreds) of videos and recipes for making Limoncello. The recipes often differ in how the sweetener is added to the drink. So that’s what we’re going to be taking a closer look at today.
What You’ll Learn:
- Three ways to add the sweetener to your Lemoncello
- What it looks like to “shake it like a Polariod-cello”
- Which way I felt had the best results (trick question!)
Check With Your Local Jurisdiction!
Before we get started on the fun stuff, let me give you a word of caution. Making your own Liqueurs MAY be unlawful, depending on where you live. Especially if you’re preparing liqueurs for service in a restaurant or bar, it’s super important that you make sure it’s legal to do so. I’d feel terrible if someone used our videos and ended up getting in trouble! (Seriously, penalties are pretty severe too, so definitely don’t skip this step!)
Three Ways to Sweeten the Infusion & turn it into Limoncello
Attempt #1: Add Raw Sugar & Shake it
The first way we’re going to test is to simply add white sugar to the lemon infused vodka. I’m thinking that alcohol is roughly 60% water, so given enough time and energy the sugar will dissolve into the solution and create a great Limoncello – without adding water or risking evaporation of alcohol. If this works, it has potential to be the best for that reason. If it doesn’t work, we’ll end up with a bunch of un-dissolved sugar in the bottom of the bottle and Limoncello which isn’t as sweet as we may like.
So here we add 1/4 cup of plain white sugar to 1 cup of Lemon Infused vodka. I’ve put it in a flip-top bottle so I can close it up and shake it. If you want to see a really awful dance, you’ll have to stop reading and go check out the video. Can’t say I recommend it though, it’s pretty bad!
So we’ll shake this up to try to incorporate all of the sugar (I had to do this shaking a few times.) Eventually we did get all of the sugar incorporated. Once complete, into the fridge (or ideally, freezer!)
Attempt #2: Stir in a 3-1 Ultra Rich Simple Syrup
This was the most common method I saw online for sweetening the infusion, (though most people used a “normal” simple syrup.) My concern with this method is that we are adding water to the infusion again, and I’m concerned about diluting the flavor. To minimize the effect I’ve made a super thick 3-1 ratio Simple Syrup and I’ll be using that. So let’s see how it works out. I haven’t done this technique before, but it seems to be one of the favorites online.
So first (and not shown in the video), make a simple syrup that’s 3 parts sugar to 1 part water. I’d use the usual method, (you can check out our video on Simple Syrup for more info.) I’ve let it cool, then I incorporate it into the Limoncello. I’ve tried to keep my sugar constant, so I’ve made the simple syrup with 1/4 cup of sugar, same as the other methods here. Add that simple syrup to the Limoncello and stir to incorporate.
Attempt 3: Add Sugar to Infusion over Heat
BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THIS STEP. Seriously.
Heating alcohol on a stove is VERY DANGEROUS. In the video I outline a few safety steps but I’m going to recap them here as well:
- Very low heat! You just want to slightly warm your infusion. If you heat it enough to start evaporating alcohol you will both a) risk combustion and b) make a crappy Limoncello because all your booze will be gone!
- Turn your Hood On. If any fumes ARE created, you want to get them outta there, ASAP.
- Use a super tall pan. In this case, my liquid only takes up about 10% of the pot’s height. That’s again to keep any possible alcohol vapor away from the stove’s heat source.
- Have a lid nearby. This is the last-case scenario, but if you DO have a flame-up, immediately put a pot lid on it. This should stop the flame by starving it of oxygen.
What we have done in this step (after following all safety tips above) is we’ve heated the infused vodka slightly over the stove, added the 1/4 cup of sugar (same as the others) and stirred to combine. The benefit of this method is it still ensures the sugar is fully incorporated, but it doesn’t introduce any more water. The process should not take very long, and you want the mixture on the stove for as little time as possible. As soon as the sugar has dissolved, cut the heat and let it cool.
Attempt #1: Shaking in Plain White Sugar
The sugar fully incorporated (which I was worried about), and it tastes great! I’m actually pretty surprised, I didn’t expect this one to work. But I’d say the final product turned out well, and I’d be OK serving this to guests.
Attempt #2: Adding 3-1 Simple Syrup
I can taste a slightly bitter note to it, but only very slightly. I’m uncertain why a different sweetening method would impact bitterness, except perhaps not to cover it up as much. You can tell that it is slightly more watered down than the others, but you’d only ever notice by tasting them side-by-side. This is still a great product and I’d be happy serving this to customers as well.
Attempt #3: Adding white sugar over heated Infusion
Finally, this is the one I usually make (but again, be careful.) I feel like I am tasting a little more vibrancy right in the beginning, and that it carries a little more weight to it as well. The flavor also seems to last longer. But to be honest, you may only taste the difference side by side, and it’s only very slight. I think this is still producing the best results, but it’s not a significant difference.
So there you have it – all three methods produced really nice results that’d be more than good enough to present to your customers. So at this point, I’d say choose the method that you prefer or that is quickest for you!
What do you think?
Have you made Limoncello before? Which method did you use? Let us know in the comments!