Sunday, March 6, 2011

Limoncello Martini

We have a bottle of limoncello that has been languishing in the back of our liquor cabinet for almost a year. My parents brought it back from a trip to Italy they took about this time last year when spring was threatening, but hadn't quite arrived.* They visited the Amalfi Coast, where limoncello is traditionally made. Tell me you wouldn't rather be there right now. 
I've been bringing this bottle around to family celebrations, hoping we might all enjoy it together in the traditional way - as a digestivo. But in my family, a sweet after-dinner drink cannot compete with rich chocolate desserts and sambuca and so the bottle stayed on the shelf, waiting to remind me of sunnier places where fresh citrus fruit grows by the sea. And, it turns out that is exactly what I need in early March.

So, I searched for some drinks featuring limoncello. I came across a recipe for Limoncello Champagne cocktails and you better believe I'm making these the next time I get together with my girlfriends (when Prosecco always seems to be in abundant supply). With my more limited bar options at home, I settled on an amped-up Lemon Drop martini. I almost never drink vodka or sweet drinks, but I planned to be watching the Oscars and pretty yellow martinis seemed appropriate for the occasion. The result was sweet and tart and filled with lemony goodness. It isn't the burliest drink in the book, but it is charming in an innocent, girly sort-of way. And sometimes, that's just right.

(About the "his and hers" limoncello cocktails in the picture above.... As it turns out, a weekend in which you've already subjected your husband to discussions about best dressed leading ladies might not be the perfect time to serve up a sweet concoction. I'm not giving up on the idea of limoncello and gin - it could be a nice accompaniment to a summer grilling session - but I think I misplayed my hand this time around.)

Limoncello Martini
You might wonder why the lemon juice is necessary here. I found it made the drink frothy (and therefore much more appealing) and added a subtle tartness.

1.5 oz vodka
1 oz limoncello
1/2 oz orange liqueur (triple sec, cointreau) 
1/2 oz lemon juice

Rim glass with lemon twist and lemon sugar. (We used Lime Tree Cove's pretty neat Barmaid - it rims your glass with all kinds of sugary and salty delights. Check it out if you, like me, are always forgetting to add the glass topping before you pour the drink.) Add ingredients to a shaker; shake vigorously. Pour into a chilled martini glass and enjoy.

*You can also purchase limoncello at most liquor stores. Look for it with the cordials and liqueurs. Or, if you are adventurous in the kitchen, you can make your own.

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