Apparently, this weekend is cocktail weekend.
Contrary to yesterday’s Bee’s Kiss, though, my Lemon Drop liquor is light and refreshing. It’s a great late-summer-lazy-day-sitting-in-the-yard-waiting-for-the-barbecue-to-be-done kind of drink. If you start a bottle early this week, it’ll be ready in plenty of time for your Labor Day festivities.
A few years back, I decided to adapt the drink into something yummy I could have sitting on my bar year round. If you’ve ever had limoncello (Italian lemon liquor), that’s basically what this is.
Making fruit-infused vodkas and liquors is super easy to do. It’s a fun project. The jars look nice sitting on the counter. And you can’t beat the flavor.
Before you start, take a peek at my fruit-infused liquor primer for a little background and quick notes on general technique and food safety.
I’ll never forget the first time I made this. My hands were red and raw from zesting a dozen lemons. You won’t often hear me say this, but put on a pair of rubber gloves before you tackle this one. You’ll be glad you did.
This liquor is also a more-than-acceptable substitution for lemon juice in certain recipes where you don’t mind a little bit of sugar or kick.
Sweet & Sunny Lemon Drop Liquor
8-12 large lemons, washed and dried
4 cups vodka
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 cups water
Zest your lemons, avoiding the bitter white pith. You can pretty much use any kind of zester or grater to do this. I think the first time I made this, I used one of the smaller sides of a box grater. The goal is to get small, thin pieces of lemon peel without losing too much of the lemon’s essential oils.
Put the lemon zest into a large, sterilized glass jar. Pour in the vodka and give it a swish to combine.
Cover the jar tightly and set it aside in a cool place for 2 to 4 days. When the lemon zest turns pale and the vodka has turned a brilliant yellow, strain the zest out and store the vodka in large bowl.
Next, make a simple syrup. Put the water and sugar into your largest saucepan or stew pot. Whisk together. Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Pour the syrup into the vodka. Whisk to combine. Taste and bottle. Keeps well for about a year in a cool, dark place.