Limoncello is crisp and refreshing, bright and citrusy, and basically just the perfect summer drink. But, honestly, beyond knowing that we love it…we don’t know much about limoncello. So, naturally, we talked to the experts over at Pennsylvania Libations to learn more.

If you haven’t been there yet, PA Libations sells a variety of spirits – all made within Pennsylvania. They offer free tastings (when allowed by Allegheny County guidelines, of course) which means you can sample before you buy. We love free samples since spirits can have such different flavors, even when you’re talking about the same type! Take limoncello, for example. PA Libations has two on their shelves, and they have two different flavor profiles.

bella bambini limoncello
Image via: @palibationsspirits, Instagram

The Bella Bambini Limoncello is a 192 proof corn-based alcohol that’s infused with lemons for more than 30 days. It’s then cut to 65 proof with distilled water and simple syrup…so it’s basically a ready-to-drink lemon drop. Bella Bambini also makes ‘cellos in orange, pineapple, and caffe…and we think we need to do a little “research” on those. Ahem.

If you’re into cocktails, PA Libations recommends using the Bella Bambini Limoncello in a Tom Collins: combine 2 ounces Lititz Springs Gin with 1 ounce Bella Bambini Limoncello. Top with Red Ribbon Seltzer Water and…that’s it. Sip and enjoy this amazingly refreshing summer drink. You could also add in some iced tea for an Arnold Palmer!

new liberty american limoncello
Image via: @new_liberty_distillery, Instagram

The New Liberty American Limoncello has a traditional lemon juice flavor profile – the freshly zested lemons bring out lemon meringue pie on the nose. It’s a perfect after-dinner sipper at 60 proof.

The tartness of the New Liberty American Limoncello makes it perfect for a rye-forward Whiskey Sour. Combine 2 ounces Forefathers Cask Strength Single Barrel Bourbon (36% Rye) with 3/4 ounce New Liberty American Limoncello, 1/4 ounce simple syrup, and a dash of Quantum Orange Bitters. The orange bitters add complexity for this cocktail that’s sure to impress your friends.

And, get this, limoncello is actually pretty easy to make. Bobby from PA Libations made some earlier this year, and he walked us through the process. He says:

Throw on some Sinatra, zest some lemons, and impatiently wait as those lemons soak in your favorite vodka for 30-45 days. The sweetener used is a beauty in the eye of the beholder; sugar, brown sugar (my favorite), honey, maple syrup, agave… the list goes on. But really, it’s all about the base. Pennsylvania Libations has an array of Corn, Wheat, Rye, and Potato vodkas to act as a base and our highly educated staff is always willing to walk through which option is best for each individual.

homemade limoncello
Image via: Bobby, Pennsylvania Libations

He used the skin of 10 lemons with as little pith (the white part between the skin and the fruit) as possible because it’s bitter. He placed them in a container large enough to fit the lemon peel and 750ml of CJ Spirits Rocksov Vodka. After 45 days, he filtered out the peels with cheesecloth, and the real experimentation began. Recipes are all over the board with sweeteners, both type and quantity, so he worked in smaller batches to find what he liked. You can use anything from honey, maple syrup, simple syrup (50/50 sugar and water), and brown sugar, which was Bobby’s favorite. He did small portions with 50% sweetener / 50% limoncello and 25% sweetener / 75% limoncello to figure out what level of sweetness he preferred – which was somewhere between the two.

Once you mix in the sweeteners, you have to let the limoncello sit in the refrigerator for another week so the flavors can adequately mix…which is the hardest part since it’s essentially done. We don’t know about you, but we think we have our next quarantine project!

This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.
Lauren Roberts

Lauren loves all things Pittsburgh and all things food! When she's not checking out a new restaurant, you can find her in the kitchen trying a new recipe, working on her photography, or out on a bike ride exploring the city.

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