Limoncello – Italian Liqueurs
Traditional and surprising new twists on Italy’s favorite before- and after-dinner drink.
Limoncello, the übersippable, tart and tangy liqueur, is a superb way to start or end a meal, but what about berrycello, cherrycello or even fennelcello? Innovative mixologists are mixing and macerating all kinds of fruits and herbs to create new riffs on the Italian classic.
At the upscale rustic Italian restaurant Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca in Washington, D.C., Wine Director Michael King keeps his cocktail menu Italian-focused, regularly offering classic as well as new and improved cellos. Tempt your taste buds with vanilla citrus, mandarin orange, cherry, fennel and peach. Guests can opt for flights of three ($ 10) or five ($ 15).
Executive Chef Vincenzo Scarmiglia offers patrons of Sirio Ristorante, at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, eclectic flavors inspired by his grandmother’s recipes. Diners can also order one ($ 10), three ($ 25) or five ($ 35) cello flavors, served with a dessert: Earthy trufflecello is the most popular, served with a chocolate brownie; berrycello, partnered with raspberry vacherin and crème Anglaise; cocoacello, which comes with cocoa nib cookies; tangerinecello gets a plate of polenta cookies; and classic limoncello tempts with a flaky coconut macaroon.
While cellos are typically served neat or on the rocks, they are also a welcome addition to the cocktail shaker, adding both sweet and sour elements to a tipple. At Alba Restaurant & Wine Bar, in Boulder, Colorado, bartender Russell Olsen devotes an entire section of the cocktail menu to limoncello-based drinks. Tiny’s Arnold Palmer ($ 8) combines the Italian classic with iced tea and lemonade. When a cello or cello cocktail recipe calls for simple syrup, owner Rick Stein recommends starting with about half of the recommended amount and adding more gradually, to taste.
If you are ready to dive into crafting cellos at home, limoncello is the classic way to start. It’s fresh, zesty and miles above the many store-bought bottles that tend to taste like floor cleaner.