Mellow Limoncello ⁑

Limoncello is the generic name for an Italian citrus-based lemon liqueur that is served well chilled, usually in summer months. We were introduced to it by neighbors who had partaken of it during their travels, and who served it to us at a New Year’s Eve celebration. I can probably find it at my local liquor store, but its sugar content would be counter to my dietetic guidelines. I decided to make my own, and you can, too. You can find recipes on the internet.

I made my first batch without consulting those on the internet, from memories of that served at my neighbor’s. When I consulted internet recipes, I was astonished to find that their chief ingredient was water. Mine contained none, and I decided to keep it that way! But you may add water to yours, if you wish—it will be more like a spiked lemonade then, but de gustibus non est disputandum.

The ingredients are simple and few, and making a batch does not require much work. But you will need some time. In Italy, Limoncello steeps for at least (80) eighty days, I am told. It is commonly kept in the freezer until ready to serve.

  • 2 cups vodka (needn’t be expensive)
  • 1 cup <sugar>
  • 2 oz lemon juice
  • zest from one lemon
  • ¼ tsp xanthan gum

Wash and dry the lemon. Then remove the peel using a microplane grader, if you have one, or a sharp knife, if not. In the latter case, be sure to remove as much of the white of the peel as you can.

Put all ingredients into a blender and mix at high speed for 1 minute.

Transfer liquid into a covered microwavable container and zap on high until the liquid is hot, just beginning to boil. Remove it from the oven and let it cool. Pour it through a fine strainer into that fancy bottle that someone gave you as a gift and whose contents you have since consumed but cannot bear to throw away.

Store on a shelf for at least a week before consuming (if you can!). To consume, place the bottle in the freezer overnight. You may add ice or icewater, if drinking neat is not your wont.

Rasputini Cocktail ‡

This last entry is not my invention, but was the last entry of Fast and Fancy by John Phillips Cranwell, whose citation appears in the Good Books chapter later in this work. It appears here, in slightly altered form, because it is a favorite, not only for its ingredients, but because Cranwell’s descriptive style is so engaging, and also because the book is out of print and might not be accessible otherwise. Cranwell describes it as an “extra-bonus drink” that “is not, repeat, not for Sunday morning or any other morning. Insidious as Dr. Fu Manchu, smooth and cunning as its namesake and as deadly, the Rasputini is a fine cocktail for the forewarned. It is included here because ... the recipe has never before been published. Its birthday was June 11, 1944, its mother was necessity, and its father Peterkin Pepit, caught on a Sunday afternoon with his gin supplies down and guests who clamored for martinis. Peter had a bottle of vodka. On the spot, in both senses of the phrase, he invented the Rasputini. The results were startling, almost instantaneous, and, for a time, appeared perpetual.*

  • 6 oz vodka
  • 6 oz gin
  • 3 oz dry vermouth
  • 4 generous slices lemon peel

Put four martini glasses in the freezer well ahead of the time they will be needed. Place a large quantity of ice in a cocktail mixer, add all liquid ingredients,and stir until very, very well chilled. Twist each slice of lemon peel, rub it around the rim of a glass, and drop it into the glass. Pour and enjoy the drink.

Serves 4.