My love affair with limoncello, a traditional Southern Italian liqueur made from lemons, officially began five years ago on my honeymoon in Italy. Every lunch and dinner ended with a small, chilled glass of this seductive beverage, said to aid digestion. (It's made with local Sorrento lemons that are soaked in alcohol and then mixed with sugar and water.)
After several failed homemade versions and tastes of "limoncello" that tasted like furniture polish, I was thrilled to discover Hello Cello Limoncello. Handmade in Sonoma, California, by husband-and-wife team Fred and Amy Groth, it's perfectly lemony with just the right sweetness (they use agave instead of processed sugar). The key is the ingredients: they use organic Sorrento lemons and local grapes. (It doesn't hurt that it comes in a fabulous 375mL bottle.) A few local restaurants are pouring it, but for your very own bottle, order through K&L Wines or Beltramos.com; it's around $25.
While I like to sip my limoncello neat, there are plenty of cocktail options that will keep you sipping this lemony liqueur. My favorite is a sparkling concoction the Groths call the Limoncello di Sonoma Scorpino.
Limoncello di Sonoma Scorpino (serves 2)
- 2 scoops lemon sorbet
- 3 ounces vodka
- 3 ounces Limoncello di Sonoma
- California sparkling wine
- Lemon slices, for garnish
In a blender combine sorbet, vodka, and Limoncello di Sonoma. Blend until smooth. Divide between 2 glasses and then add the sparkling wine to fill the glasses. Garnish with the lemon slices.
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