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03.12.10 by  

Limoncello Cocktails. Because Straight Everclear Seems So Aggressive.

We found ourselves surrounded by massive quantities of lemons and grain alcohol (long story) and did what any sane person would do: make limoncello. Now with tubs of after-dinner liqueur, we decided to get creative by tossing the spirit into every drink recipe possible, from martinis to margaritas.

You may remember some time ago we got on a homemade limoncello kick, which is all fine and good, until you find yourself stalking farmer’s markets and citrus groves looking for deals by the bushel. We’ve realized two things: 1) after you’ve thrown your 13th Limoncello Cook Off, people stop answering your Evites; 2) local growers take restraining orders pretty seriously.

Our lemon addiction resulted in massive quantities of the liqueur, so rather than gift it Martha Stewart-style, we decided to riff on new ways to sip it — this way the habit feels less like an addiction and more like creative genius. Or something like that.

Ingredients for Buffalo Soldier Cocktail

Taste buds, meet Buffalo Soldier. Swap out jams and citrus for a new experience each time you shake a new drink.

We started with the 2-1-1 formula, using the digestif as both sweet and citrus, and even at times, subbing it out for vermouth. Almost every recipe benefited from a spicy-orange or orange bitters. When the concoction was too strong, we found prosecco or sparkling wine a better way to round out the drink than seltzer, which watered it down.

Now, go forth and create …


  • Limoncello di Served Raw (re: the unmarked jars sitting on our counter moonshine-style)
  • Limoncello di Sorrento (a good substitution if you don’t have homemade)


  • Buffalo Trace Bourbon
  • Hangar One Spice Pear Vodka
  • Rittenhouse Rye
  • 7 Leguas Tequila Blanco


  • Apple juice
  • Black currant jam
  • Bitters — Regan’s orange and Fee’s orange
  • Cranberry juice
  • Fig spread
  • Sparkling wine or Prosecco
  • Wasabi powder

Our favorite cocktail combinations:

Buffalo Soldier

  • 2.5 parts Buffalo Trace bourbon
  • 1 part limoncello
  • 1 teaspoon black currant jam or fig spread
  • 2 to 3 drops Fee’s orange bitters
  • Orange rind
  1. Shake first three ingredients over ice (the jam will cloud the drink anyway). Strain into martini glass. Garnish with orange rind, twisted to release oils.

Border Patrol

  • 2 parts agave tequila
  • 3/4 part limoncello
  • 1 splash cranberry juice
  • 1 drop Fee’s orange bitters
  • 1 drop Regan’s orange bitters
  • lemon zest
  • sea salt
  1. Rim old-fashioned glass with lemon zest-salt combo. Shake first three ingredients over ice. Pour into old-fashioned glass — we like this so-ugly-it’s cute style — and add bitters.

Manhattan Drop

  • 2.5 parts Rittenhouse Rye
  • 1 part limoncello
  • 2 drops Regan’s bitters (the cardamom kick plays up spicy rye)
  • Brandied cherry
  • Orange rind, torched
  1. Stir first three ingredients in ice, pour into martini glass. Drop in a brandied cherry and garnish with orange rind, torched to release oil.

Jane Bond Lemon Drop

  • 2.5 parts Hangar One Pear-Spiced Vodka
  • 1 part limoncello
  • 1/2 part sparkling wine (or prosecco)
  • Twist of lemon
  1. Rim old-fashioned glass with orange zest-sugar combo (optional).
  2. Shake first three ingredients over ice, strain into a martini glass and add bitters (also optional).
  3. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

Next up, we’re playing with a trifecta of blood orange vodka, limoncello and wasabi powder…and seeing how this digestif can work its way into pasta, mussels and more.