Kirk and I been having an absolutely wonderful time the past few weeks… the highlight being getting married! WHAT. It’s finally official and feels so so good and also still a little wonderfully weird.
We’ve had batches of limoncello and arancello brewing in the corner of our kitchen for six months now in preparation for the wedding. These lemon & orange liquors are the definition of a labor of love; the strong stuff is infused with oils from citrus peels over several months, filtered a few times to take any bitterness away, and sweetened with simple syrup. The result is a sweet-but-lethal liquor (we’re talking 140 proof… oomph) that’s perfect for aperitifs.
These liquors are dead-simple to make so long as you have enough patience, which I usually don’t. Combine peels and alcohol, let it sit, that first part is easy. Then filter… and filter… stir in simple syrup… and filter again… and again. And then let it sit and mellow for as long as you can restrain yourself.
Your kitchen counters might be covered with glasses, mugs, and mason jars for an afternoon of filtering. Your trash can might be completely full of coffee filters. You might hate me just a little bit after the third round. But I promise the smooth, sweet shot at the end is worth it.
I was so excited to cater our own wedding weekend and make our own liquors that I jumped right in. In retrospect… if I’m being truthful… Kirk maybe wasn’t consulted about several weekends of filtering homemade alcohol. Lucky me that he’s pretty used to my overenthusiastic projects (very) and has more patience than me (much).
Celebrating with our closest family in the Rocky Mountains was pretty freaking perfect. We ate all the good food and drank all the craft beers. We did a little hiking (and a little more digging cars out of snowdrifts). We laughed our way through the ceremony and made lifetime promises that I can’t wait to keep every single day. Bottles of homemade liquor that we made together for toasting and cheersing and celebrating were the cherry on top.
Right now is the perfect time to start batches for the end-of-year holidays! The slow process of making the liquors takes about three months and then the longer they’re stored, the more they keep mellowing to become even smoother.
Start now, bottle in August, and have plenty ready to gift or serve. (Please do check your local rules about homemade liquor – you might need to mark them as gifts for personal consumption just to be on the up-and-up.) Stressed-out holiday-you will totally thank you.
- 750 ml Everclear 190 proof
- 750 ml vodka 80 proof
- 15 large lemons or oranges
- 3 cups water
- 4 cups sugar
- 1 gallon glass jar
- box #4 coffee filters
- box #2 coffee filters
Pour the Everclear and vodka into the clean gallon glass jar.
Thoroughly clean the lemons or oranges. Use a peeler to peel just the top layer of skin; scrape off any white pith from the peels, because pith will make your liquor bitter.
Add the peels to the alcohol and stir gently.
Cover tightly and store in a cool, dark place.
Gently stir the peels and reseal tightly.
Gently stir the peels. Remove one and test its flexibility; if it snaps cleanly, it's ready to begin filtering. If not, wait another week and test again.
Combine water in sugar in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until sugar is completely dissolved and set aside to cool.
Remove the peels with a slotted spoon and discard. All the oils from the peels have now infused into the alcohol.
Slowly strain liquor through #4 coffee filters. This is a very slow process and you will go through many filters.
Strain liquor through the #4 filters a second time and return to the gallon glass jar.
Add cooled syrup to the liquor and stir. Cover tightly and return to cool, dark place.
Repeat the filtering process twice more using the #2 coffee filters, for a total of four filtrations.
The liquor is ready for bottling. Make sure to seal as tightly as possible.
Let the bottles rest in a cool, dark place for at least four weeks and longer if possible. The longer they rest, the more the alcohol will mellow and the smoother the liquor will be.
Pick lemons or oranges that are thick-skinned without surface flaws.