I learned an important lesson the time Linda and I made lemoncello last summer, and the lesson is: don’t make it using Everclear, you will regret it.
Fast forward to my birthday this past September, to me finding a jar of lemoncello in the back of the freezer at some advanced point in the evening, trying to force feed everyone shots of it but being mostly refused so drinking a lot of that jar by myself in the kitchen, probably dancing to Billie Jean, which I insisted be played over and over. I felt surprisingly great the next day, credited mostly to the sheer volume of dirt pudding I consumed after everyone left. (I asked for dirt pudding instead of a cake, I recommend it. Also, yes, for my 27th birthday I asked for dirt pudding, with flowers stuck into it. What of it.)
The point is, make your lemon-orange-lime-grapefruitcello with vodka, not Everclear. This time I used Svedka, which I thought was a nice compromise between the 5 O’Clock I considered buying, and the Absolut I thought I should buy. I also did take the time to really scrape the pith off the peels with a sharp paring knife, which was time consuming and not that fun, but worthwhile because the orangecello is FANTASTIC. It’s sweet and fresh tasting, with no underlying bitterness. It’s also beautiful, as you will see in a moment. I used Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe, because even though I think her boobs are worryingly close to her face, she does seem to know a thing or two about Italian food.
Orangecello, from Giada De Laurentiis
1 750 ml bottle of vodka, I used Svedka, I figure any kind will do.
1 bag organic Navel oranges, Giada says only 7 oranges, I used 12 or so.
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1-quart mason jars
For the infusion: Peel the oranges using a vegetable peeler, into broad, long strips. The bigger the pieces, the easier it’ll be to scrape the pith off, so don’t worry too much about trying not to get any pith, just do big fat strips.
When your oranges are all undressed, take a sharp paring knife and holding each strip with one hand, scrape the white pith off the underside of each. This will take a long time and about 1/4 of the way through, you’ll ask yourself “is this ABSOLUTELY necessary?” Yes, it is. Power through, and be thorough, your orangecello will taste bitter if you leave the pith.
Put half the peels into each of the jars, then cover with half the vodka. Shake every day or so. Giada says to let it sit for 4 days, but I let mine sit for about 2 weeks. I think as long as it’s at least a week or so, it’s fine. After the two weeks, open the jars and fish out the peels with a pair of tongs, discard the peels. In a sauce pan on medium heat, bring the water and sugar to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, take the syrup off the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Pour half the syrup into each jar, it will EXACTLY fill each of the jars. Give one jar to a friend, put one in your freezer and enjoy liberally.