Tony C’s Secret Limoncello Recipe

| April 13, 2013

Our close friend Tony C is a true example of the great Italian American family culture.  Tony takes enormous pride in his ancestry, his family and the Italian gastronomical experience.

Tony, like many Italian Americans loves to spend extended time with loved ones. He often shares stories about the incredible food, wine, spirits and amazing camaraderie his family enjoys.

Every summer Tony gathers with his siblings, cousins and other close relatives to bond, enjoy great Italian food and wine. One of the highlights of this outing is to make the secret family limoncello recipe.

Limoncello has a history of anecdotes and legends beginning in 1900 on the island Azzurra where Maria Antonia Farace, the proprietress of a small boarding house, had a substantial garden of oranges and lemons. Maria’s nephew opened up a bar nearby with a house specialty of lemon liquor made from his Nonna Maria’s recipe. In 1988, his son Massismo registered a trademark and started a small company  producing the traditional yellow liquor, limoncello.

The families of Sorrento and Amalfi have similar stories that are also linked to lemon cultivation and so limoncello found it’s roots.

The yellow and wrinkled lemon skin is the essential ingredient of Limoncello production. Although the liquor is easy to make, the preparation must be meticulous when peeling the lemons to avoid the white pith.  Once the limoncello ferments, the traditional yellow liquor will be ready to enjoy as an aperitif or digestive.

Tony C’s Limoncello Recipe



  • 2 pounds very fresh lemons, mottled with green, if possible.
  • 1 quart grain alcohol or vodka
  • 5 1/3  cups water
  • 3 ¾  cups sugar
  • 2 clean 1-quart decorative bottles with tops or corks


Using a sharp knife or vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the lemons, taking care not to include any of the bitter white pith.
Place the lemon zest into a clean half-gallon jar with a tight fitting lid.

The sugar is slowly added to warm (not boiling water) until the water is clear.

After the lemon zest is left in the jar of grain alcohol for 2 weeks, you should strain the lemon and add to the sugar and water.

Then let it sit in a cool & dark location for 2 weeks.


Then you are ready to drink!


Makes 2 Quarts



If you use Meyer Lemons in this recipe, the liquor will have a slightly sweeter note.



Charlotte “Tish” Goldblatt