Aperitif or Digestif - Home Brew Limoncello

Guess I never really gave much thought to what the difference is between an Aperitif and a Digestif. But in deciding to blog about making lemoncello I had to do a bit of research, and in so, have made fascinating discoveries.

Since an Aperitif is meant to be a stimulant for the appetite and to invigorate the palate, an excess of alcohol which dulls the taste buds and causes other unwelcome results on an empty stomach is not recommended. An aperitif should have a light, clean, crisp, almost astringent flavor, should not be overly sweet and is best served cold, but without ice. So chill the beverage, and the glassware. Vermouth is a standard Aperitif. (I personally am fond of Campari -Very tall with lots of ice and lemon.)

Digestifs and nightcaps, however, can afford a heavier composition in both alcohol level, and sweetness. Think port, cognac, fruit, or herbal liqueurs. Much heavier flavors and sweetness levels meant to fill and satisfy, and promote digestion. Here in the Yucatan a very popular Digestif is the regional Xtabentun, a licorice or anisette and honey liquor similar to Sambuca, Grappa, and Ouzo.

This all brings me to Lemoncello or Limoncello, you choose. We recently took friends Joanna and Jorge out to lunch to celebrate Jorge's birthday. After lunch, while dropping J&J off at home, they invited us in for a quick digestif. Quick because it was coming up , well it was actually after siesta time. So we went in for a bit of Joanna's home-brewed limoncello - Oh my gosh was that tasty. Fresh lemon flavor a bit too sweet for me but that is after all the nature of a digestif isn't it. Anyway, I get in my own way here - It was really refreshing and tasty and Joanna graciously shared her recipe.

So as I had heard that CostCo actually has bags of yellow lemons I decided to give this brew a shot. So the other day while out and about we stopped in. I hadn't been in to CostCo in months and months and months mainly because Tom and George, who have a weekly BDO (Boys Day Out), when George is in Mérida that is(Oct - Apr) tend to make CostCo one of their regular stops, along with several other places I prefer not to go (HomeDepot). So George - if you read this, I really am missing you!


OK, back to the limoncello - Joanna's Lmoncello recipe

1.5ltrs of Vodka

12 yellow lemons - use only the outer most lemon peel avoiding as much of the white pith as you can. I found my mandolin to work perfectly for this this shave. Much better in fact than me trying to shave the peel with a very sharp knife. Clean the lemons, and shave off the yellow peel, add to a large glass container sufficient to hold this plus 1.5 ltrs of vodka, cover and store in a dark place for from 3 - 10 days (Joanna says 3, but many recipes on the internet extend the time, so I am giving the option here)


Here are my lovely yellow Eureka lemons grom Costco,
which by the way, and according to the bag - had been bagged 6 weeks ago!
Once your Vodka mix has steeped, brew up a simple sugar syrup -

1k sugar, added to and brought just to the boiling point with 1 ltr of water.

Let this cool, then add to the lemon vodka mix. Mix thorougly and stain and decant your Limoncello into decorative bottles. Store in fridge or freezer till use.


Here is my container of lemon peel and vodka under the guest bathroom sink.


Just a few more days and I too will have Limoncello in my fridge - Take me to lunch and afterwards I'll invite you in for a Digestif (Boy does that sound like a come on or what?) Nevermind, you have the recipe, brew your own!