During a conversation with an Italian friend the other day, the subject of limoncello came up. By the by, it’s curious how often Italians will end up talking about food or drink–it’s like an Italian version of Godwin’s Law–if a conversation goes on for long enough, someone will mention their favourite pasta sauce. But I digress! I mentioned how I like to drink limoncello with a dash of tonic water and ice.
The look of shock/horror on my friend’s face was priceless! Apparently, no one ever drinks it that way in Italy, where it is used as an after-meal ‘digestivo’. It is normally served in a shot glass as a liquor to be drunk by itself. However, a spot of web searching revealed that I’m not entirely alone in how I serve the drink! Limoncello with tonic water is a common enough cocktail, and there’s also a variation that includes a spot of gin (basically a gin & tonic with added limoncello).
I asked an Italian colleague about this and received the same look of shock/horror. Amazing. Basically, when in Italy, just drink limoncello as-is from a small shot glass if you don’t want to get strange looks!
The drink originates in the South of Italy, especially around Naples. To make it, lemon zest is left to sit in alcohol until the lemon oils are released, resulting in a yellow liquid which is then mixed with syrup to add the sweetness. You can make it at home and there are plenty of recipes available on the Web.
I’m still going to add tonic and ice! 😉