Imagine Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis saying, "limoncello!" while a raising a glass of this yellow liquid to the table, followed by a resounding "chin chin." This classic Italian liqueur, made from the zest of the lemons that grow in the beautiful regions of the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, and Capri is a gift from Mother Nature to humans. But, wait, what is limoncello and how the heck do I drink it? 

How Limoncello Is Made

lemon, juice, citrus, lemonade, citron
Rebecca Block

Limoncello is an Italian liquor made from the zest of lemons, sugar, water, and, of course, alcohol (usually grappa or vodka). Because it sounds like an adult spiked lemonade, it seems like an easy-to-make liquor. However, its production requires a great deal of precision and attention. The lemons are harvested by hand to avoid them from touching the ground at any given moment, and it takes place during the warmer months of February to October. 

You can also find other varieties of this type of drink, such as pistachiocello (pistachio-flavored), meloncello (cantaloupe or watermelon-flavored), or fragoncello (strawberry-flavored). 

The Origins of Limoncello

Karly Wilson

Legend says that limoncello was born in a small house in Capri in the early 1900s, where Lady Maria Antonia Farace grew her own oranges and lemons to make a liquor to offer her guests when they came to visit. Her grandson later opened a bar after World War II, following his nonna's limoncello recipe. 

The lemons used to make limoncello come not only from Capri, but also Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast in Italy. It's safe to assume that each place has its own limoncello recipe and that tastes may vary from place to place. These lemons are not what you usually get at your local grocery store. They have an intense taste, a slight sweetness, and most importantly, healthy properties such as being a good source of vitamin C

How Limoncello Is Enjoyed

cream, sweet, soup
Savannah Carter

In Italy, limoncello is often enjoyed as an aperitif (before a meal) or a digestif (after a meal). Regardless, limoncello is often served chilled (but not over ice) to exalt its flavors. It's usually served in a shot glass or a small ceramic cup because of its high alcohol content. Although it's served in a shot glass, it's meant to be sipped, enjoying and savoring each and every drop to help your body digest your food. 

Aside from drinking it straight out of the bottle, limoncello can also be used for making cocktails combined with a citrus juice, blackberries, basil, or mint, vodka, and maybe a syrup to help remove its slight tartness. It can also be used in desserts such as limoncello pound cake, gelato, or cheesecake.

cocktail, Sangria, lemon, peach, strawberry, juice, sweet, vegetable
Carolyne Su

What is limoncello, again? Just a great invention that we'll forever be thanking the Italians for. If you ever find yourself in the Amalfi Coast, Capri, or Sorrento, look for some quality limoncello and take a drink. Whether it's straight in a shot glass after dinner or in a mixed drink at a bar with your friends, you'll be eating and drinking like a full-blown Italian. 

#SpoonTip: If you're struggling to find a good, affordable bottle of limoncello for your Spring Break shenanigans, make your own limoncello