The Specific Lemons That Make Italian Limoncello So Unique

If you've ever had the chance to go to Italy, or eaten at a traditional Italian restaurant in the United States, you may be familiar with the sweet drink known as limoncello. Limoncello is an Italian liqueur made from soaking lemon peels in alcohol and is most frequently served after meals as a digestive. Limoncello made in Italy uses a special type of lemon that helped make the beverage the staple it is today. The lemon peels from lemons harvested in the south of Italy, around Campania, and the liqueur is most famously made in Sorrento. These oval-shaped lemons were unusually sweet and fragrant, and able to hold their own against the harsh alcohols used to create limoncello.

Sorrento limoncello is labeled as an IGP product. This stands for Indicazione Geografica Protetta and translates to protected geographical indication. What this does is ensure that Sorrento limoncello remains a unique product of Sorrento and that the specific lemons from Campania can only be used in these products. This protects the producers of the liqueur and allows it to be a specialized regional good, similar to Champagne. With this protection comes a strict guideline of how the limoncello is to be produced. Lemons must be harvested by hand, be pesticide-free, and be protected from the elements with a traditional straw mat created around the citrus trees.

How to enjoy authentic limoncello

Your best chance at finding Sorrento limoncello is to check your local, large liquor stores. If you don't find it there, specialized Italian grocers are an option, as well as online stores. Limoncello is best-enjoyed ice cold, with the bottle being chilled in the freezer before it's served. You can further ensure your beverage stays cold by chilling your glassware before serving. Limoncello is not meant to be a large pour and can be easily enjoyed in tall shot glasses. This is the most traditional way to enjoy limoncello, but if you want to get creative, there are a multitude of fun cocktails featuring the liqueur.

You can make a batch of homemade crema di limoncello using a bottle of Sorrento for a creamy, refreshing take on the drink. You can also use limoncello for an extra boozy take on a Tom Collins cocktail. You don't have to limit yourself to just drinking limoncello, the liqueur can also upgrade lemon bars with a splash of the liqueur as well. Limoncello is a fun alternative for cocktail recipes that call for lemon if you're looking to make a stronger lemon drop or spritz. Just be sure to take the time to enjoy the unique flavor of the liqueur on its own as well.