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Homemade limoncello

Limoncello (Italian pronunciation: [limonˈtʃɛllo]) is an Italian lemon liqueur mainly produced in Southern Italy, especially in the region around the Gulf of Naples, the Sorrentine Peninsula and the coast of Amalfi and islands of Procida, Ischia and Capri.[1] It is also produced in Sicily, Sardinia, Menton in France, and the Maltese island of Gozo. Though there is debate about the exact origin of the drink, it is at least one hundred years old.[2][3]

Traditionally, it is made from the zest of Femminello St. Teresa lemons, also known as Sorrento lemons or Sfusato Lemons. [3][4] Lemon zest, or peels without the pith, are steeped in grain alcohol until the oil is released. The resulting yellow liquid is then mixed with simple syrup. Clarity and viscosity are affected by factors like the relative temperatures of the two liquids. Opaque limoncellos are the result of spontaneous emulsification, otherwise known as the Ouzo Effect, of the sugar syrup and extracted lemon oils.

Limoncello is the second most popular liqueur in Italy [4] but has recently become popular in other parts of the world. Restaurants in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand are increasingly offering limoncello on their beverage and dessert menus.

In 2008 in the United States commercial producers using California lemons, introduced USA commercially-made limoncello, including Ventura Limoncello (California producer), and Fabrizia Limoncello (New Hampshire producer) who have both gained national distribution. New Zealand has also produced a version of limoncello called Sovrano limoncello. Limoncello is an increasingly popular ingredient in cocktails. Limoncello imparts a strong lemon flavor without the sourness or bitterness of lemon juice.

Limoncello Bottles view from top


Limoncello is traditionally served chilled as an after-dinner digestivo. Along the Amalfi Coast, it is usually served in small ceramic glasses themselves often chilled, the Amalfi coast being a center of both ceramics and limoncello production. This tradition has been carried into other parts of Italy.[5]

Alcohol content[edit]

An ethanol content of 28-32% is considered optimal for Limoncello.[6]


Many variations of Limoncello are also available. These include Pistachiocello (flavored with pistachio nuts), Meloncello (flavored with cantaloupe), and Fragoncello (flavored with strawberry). An additional flavor is Viagroncello, which is flavored with sambuca, chili pepper and mint. It is named after Viagra, as it is said to have arousing affects.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Homemade Limoncello". Imbibe. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  2. ^ Kristin Tillotson (Thursday, July 3, 2008). "Limoncello Citrus Liqueur Recipe Is Far From Lemonade". The Minneapolis Star Tribune. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Charles Perry (September 8, 2004). "Taste of a thousand lemons". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Jayne Cain (2011). "When Life Gives Italians Lemons, They Make Limoncello". Rick Steves' Europe. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Valerie Waterhouse (September 2010). "5 Ways to See Italy". Travel + Leisure. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  6. ^ Andrea, V.; Nadia, N., Teresa, R. M. & Andrea, A. (August 2003). "Analysis of Some Italian Lemon Liquors (Limoncello)". J. Agric. Food Chem. 51 (17): 4978–4983. doi:10.1021/jf030083d. PMID 12903956.