Vermouth Limoncello Recipe, Plus Bottles to Try
Skip Tognetti, owner and founder of Seattle-based Letterpress Distilling, making arancello (an orange version of the liqueur) was a way to express his Italian heritage while pushing beyond limoncello.
“Blood orange is almost ubiquitous in Sicily and part of Calabria,” he explains. “I thought it would be fun as a seasonal thing”—the fruit typically peaks from December through February. The spiced orange liqueur found fans, so he’s ramped up production. It’s now available year-round.
Next on his alterna-cello wish list: a grapefruit-cello. While a limited-edition “pompelmocello” (pompelmo is Italian for “grapefruit”) captured the floral qualities of ruby red and golden grapefruits, Tognetti admits his holy grail will incorporate the grapefruit-like pomelo, “just because I thought it would be fun to have a product called pomelocello.”
Tognetti’s not alone. Producers and bartenders are experimenting with other citrus varieties, yielding orange and lime-based ’cellos; honing in on variations like yuzu or Meyer lemon; or infusing spices or verdant herbs (see: gingercello, basilcello) for whole new twists on the classic.
Four To Pour
1. The Classic
Lucano Anniversario Limoncello (Italy, $23). Sorrento lemon peels give this Italian liqueur a buttercup yellow hue and a flavor somewhere between candied lemon peel and lemon lollipop, braced up with a hint of white pepper tingle.
Letterpress Arancello Rosso (USA $39). From Seattle’s Letterpress Distilling, this orange-cello has a burned gold hue and honeyed aroma. Vanilla, citrus peel and spice mingle, yielding a lush profile that suggests an orange glaze for cake.
CelloVia Coconut Lime (USA, $20 for 375 ml). While this Chicago producer makes a wide range of alt- ’cellos, this one stands out for bold lemongrass and lime flavors that would be right at home sweetening rum drinks.
Marble Gingercello (USA, $39). A contemporary ’cello from Denver’s Marble Distilling, look for a sprightly fresh ginger root fragrance and moderately sweet palate with plenty of ginger heat, finishing with lemon peel brightness.
Make Your Own At Home (And Make It Quick)
This vermouth-based variation offers a less-boozy take on limoncello. It’s also faster than a traditional limoncello recipe, which can require resting for up to a month. Natasha David recommends serving it with a generous pour of dry sparkling wine over ice, garnished with an olive on a pick.
How To Make Vermouth Limoncello
From Drink Lightly, by Natasha David (Clarkson Potter, 2022)
375 ml Cinzano Dry Vermouth
375 ml Cinzano Bianco Vermouth
Peels of 10 lemons
100 grams white sugar
In a large sealable container, combine the dry vermouth, white vermouth and lemon peels. Cover and let sit in the fridge for 72 hours. Strain through a chinois. Discard the peels. In a blender, combine the infused vermouths with the sugar and blend until the sugar is dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes.
This article originally appeared in the August/September 2022 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine. Click here to subscribe today!
Published on August 1, 2022