Last week, stomach still rumbling from weeks of holiday gluttony, I declared January to be "Digestivo" month here on Uncorked. Within the category, which can include some of the most bitter, medicinal tasting concoctions anyone has thought to drink for pleasure, there is one liqueur that stands out as a fresh, approachable crowd-pleaser: limoncello.
Traditionally served as an after-dinner drink on Italy's Amalfi Coast, where Sorrento lemon trees trained into canopies that stretch longer than than the Lincoln tunnel line the steeply terraced hillsides. The lemons are macerated in a high proof distillate that is then proofed down with water and sugar, for an electric yellow, sweet, citrusy spirits that tastes like a Mediterranean holiday with the natural digestive benefits of lemon's essential oils . And while "traditional" limoncello comes from Italy, one of the best we've found is actually produced right in our own backyard. Hellocello Limoncello di Sonoma (375ml $24.99) uses organically grown lemons with similar aromatic and flavor characteristics as Sorrento lemons, plus local organic grappa made from biodynamically grown grapes, organic agave sweetner and reverse osmosis cleaned water, to create a limoncello that is pure, bright and energizing. A single sip transports me to my favorite restaurant in the Amalfi town of Minori, Ristorante Libeccio, where the homemade scialatielli with fresh-from-the-sea clams and mussels was one of the best dishes I ate on my honeymoon.
For an authentic experience, drink Limoncello di Sonoma out of a grappa glass, like the one in Riedel's Vinum line, after a meal full of the freshest seafood you can get your hands on. If you're feeling fiesty, trying mixing it into a cocktail, like the Limoncello Champagne Cocktail with Mint from Bon Appetit.