Drinking Homemade Liqueurs: Limoncello, Millifiori, Fentastic

I spent a few hours straining and straining liqueurs yesterday (in anticipation of the liqueurs book release–hey, there’s my first book plug. I’m shameless), which is always a good time. Especially because tasting them is an important part of the process. The ones I worked on started with limoncello, the sun king of liqueurs, and a favorite, and really the main impetus behind my whole crazy homemade liqueur obsession. It began when my wife Natalie and I went to Italy for the first time and had a lot of limoncello, both house-made and store bought, and fell in love with its strong-but-pleasant lemon-ness. Then, on returning home, we found that the available limoncellos here didn’t have the same backbone, and tended to be overly sweet. So, we thought, why not make our own? It’s devilishly simple, and allows a lot more control. We loved constructing it (and sipping it, ice cold, and pouring it into drinks) so much that we ended up throwing together a gigantic batch before our wedding, so we could give little bottles to everyone in attendance and spread the love around. You can see the lemons close up in the below photo–don’t they look a little tipsy?



Hanging out in grain alcohol (which is a must to reach that desired strength) for a month tends to induce tipsiness even among lemonkind, I suppose. The limoncello goes well solo, when ice cold, but is dreamy as well with club soda, and, in certain situations, when combined with other ingredients.


Millifiori (or, a million flowers) is another Italian-inspired liqueur, one that’s very herbally and spicy. In the close-up shot here, it may look like it contains worms, but have no fear worm champions–no worms were used in the making of this liqueur–it does have a little lemon zest in it, cozying up with a host of other items (including coriander, mint, cardamom, cloves, mace, marjoram, thyme), with an end result that’s very layered, and which has a number of flavorful notes coming through during a single sip.



It’s one to use carefully if experimenting with it cocktails and other drinks (I’m experimenting now, and hope to have a good recipe using it later in the blog).


Oh, the final liqueur I was working on today is fennel-based, and a completely new recipe for me (nice and simple, solely fennel, the liquor, and simple syrup). From my first tastings, it seems to have a good balance of sweet and fennel (let’s hope I didn’t go overboard on the sweet. It’s a dangerous road). We’ll see how it plays out.


Here’s the recipe for the limoncello, nice and delicious.


1 liter grain alcohol

14 lemons

3 cups simple syrup


1. Peel the lemons, working to leave the white pith with the lemon, and not taking it with the peels. Add the peels to a large, glass, container that is at least 2 liters in size and that has a good lid.


2. Add the grain alcohol to the glass container and then secure the lid. Place it on a cool and dry and secure shelf, away from the sun. Let it sit for two weeks.


3. Once the two weeks have passed, add the 3 cups simple syrup. Stir, lid, and let sit two more weeks.


4. After the waiting is over, strain the mix through double sheets of cheesecloth into a pitcher or other container.


5. Then, using new sheets of cheesecloth, strain the limoncello into bottles or jars.


Millifiori, Limoncello, Fentastic

Millifiori, Limoncello, Fentastic


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2 Responses to “Drinking Homemade Liqueurs: Limoncello, Millifiori, Fentastic”

  1. zack Says:

    nice post. i was wondering where you purchased your swing top bottles. also, how did the millefiori turn out? it sounds fascinating and delicious. could you post your recipe? cheers

    • spikedpunch Says:

      Hello Zack-

      My blog has actually moved to: http://www.ajrathbun.com/blog (come on by), but I’m glad this comment made it through, cause I always like talking about liqueurs. I tend to get my swing top bottles by cleaning old Lorina lemonade bottles (after I’ve drunk the lemonade, that is), which you kind find at most supermarkets (here in WA they’re at Safeways, Whole Foods, etc). You can also track them down at beer-making stores and sometimes at wine-making stores.

      The Millefiori is delicious: complex, with lots of flavors, and not overly sweet in any way. Here’s the recipe from my book Lucious Liqueurs:

      2 Tablespoons coriander seeds
      4 -5 fresh mint leaves
      1/2 teaspoon cardamom
      1/2 teaspoon cloves
      1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
      1/2 teaspoon mace
      1/2 teaspoon marjoram
      1/2 teaspoon thyme
      2 pints vodka
      1-1/2 cups simple syrup

      1. Ground the coriander seeds and mint leaves with a mortar and pestle. You don’t want to destroy them, but do want them broken up.

      2. Add the coriander and mint combo, the cardamom, cloves, lemon, mace, marjoram, thyme, and vodka to a large glass container with a secure lid. Stir well. Store the container in a cool and dry place for two weeks and swirl it every couple of days.

      3. After two weeks, remove the container, open it, and add the simple syrup. Stir well, and again place in a cool and dry place for two weeks. Swirling every couple of days.

      4. After the final long two weeks have passed, carefully strain the mix through double sheets of cheesecloth into a pitcher or other container that is easy to pour out of (there’s no need to spread the Millefiori on the counter).

      5. Next, get two new sheets of cheesecloth, and strain the liqueur into smaller bottles or jars or one larger vessel.


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