Lime-cello Test

So I wanted to see how it would taste if I infused my liquor with other fruit flavors. The most obvious place to start was limes. So, I made a half batch to test using the zest of 10 limes infused into a bottle of 100 proof Smirnoff vodka. I filtered the vodka four times before infusing with the zest. I let the mixture infused for about three weeks, until the zest started to look pale. I then added a simple syrup mixture of 2.5 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar. I filtered, bottled and let that mixture rest for another week.

I didn’t expect this to work well because I had tried it with oranges last year and that batch was an atrocity. This, however, worked MUCH better than I ever expected. The color of the finished liquor was hard to tell from the Limoncello in most lighting conditions but the aroma was distinctly lime. The flavor was too. I made this batch with vodka because grain alcohol is hard to come by in my state and I’m fresh out right now. Usually the benefit of the grain alcohol is that it does a better job of extracting the flavor of the zest during infusion.

This batch had plenty of lime flavor though, and though it was a bit too sweet, the overall taste was absolutely sublime. I took a bottle of it to a party at a friend’s house (which was a bold move since I hadn’t tasted it yet) and everyone liked it. You could use it to make a great mojito or other drink that requires lime but it’s excellent straight up from the freezer.


  1. scott says

    Could you describe in a little more detail the filtering process of the vodka and the final product? Thanks, Scott

  2. Ben says

    For the vodka, I just run it through a Brita filter pitcher 5 times, pouring it from the Brita pitcher into a regular pitcher and then back into the Brita until finished. For the final filtration, I pour the infusion through a permanent coffee filter once to remove all the zest. Then I put disposable coffee filters inside the permanent filter one at a time and pour the limoncello through. I put the permanent filter in a funnel so it all goes where I want. Once the batch is filtered like that once, I do it a second time, then I pour through the permanent filter when filling the bottles.

  3. paula says

    A friend of mine makes “mandarinetto”, which is limoncello made with mandarins. It is absolutely delicious! The other day I also tried one he made using a mix of lemons and oranges which was also lovely. I’m lucky enough to live in Italy, and he’s lucky enough to have a citrus grove in the back garden though.

  4. says

    What kind of oranges did you use? I have made it several times with navel oranges and it worked beautifully. I used 5 navel oranges for a fifth of Smirnoff. and zest them with a microplane rasp making sure to get no pith.

    Alternatives I have tried that work well are 4 navel oranges and 1 blood orange and I substituted the juice of the blood orange for part of the water in the syrup. You can use the zest of 2 large grapefruit or one large and its juice as a substitute, i prefer Ruby Red fruits for this. I have also done this with 1.5L of vodka and a pound of key limes using the juice of all of them in place of water with 50% more sugar.

    Mixes that work well: Lemon and Lime, substitute two limes for one lemon or four for two lemons, but only 1 to 1 after that. Lemon Tangerine substitute 3 tangerines for the first lemon, two each for the second and third and 1 for 1 for any other substitutions. Orange grapefruit substitute 1 grapefruit for two oranges 25% more sugar to the syrup. You can also add two limes to that mix. Assuming you can find them you can make yuzu-cello using ten yuzu fruit per fifth.

    Note: I use vodka, because drive 150 miles out of state to get grain alcohol doesn’t appeal to me.

  5. daveed says

    I have access currently (Aug. 2010) to a good sized acreage of Meyer Lemons, organically-grown (but not certified). I estimate between 40,000-60,000 lemons on the tree right now. We won’t be marketing them conventionally. Anybody want to go big?


  6. says

    Well, I’m trying out this recipe right now and I’ve followed your directions for limoncello very carefully. I had plans to make it the traditional way (with lemons) but our lime tree has been far more prolific than our lemon tree, so… when life give you limes, make lime-cello, right? 😉

    If I’m reading your directions correctly, are you saying it only took you 4 weeks to make lime-cello (vs. 90 days for limoncello)? Just want to make sure I’ve got that right — 3 week w/ zest, then 1 week with syrup?

    Great site — thanks for sharing your commitment to limoncello research!

  7. Ben says

    I play around with the timing a lot. I think if you have strong liquor for infusion you can probably make good limoncello (or lime-cello) in 30 days.

  8. Helen says

    I have made both lemon and limecello with our own 40% vodka and our own lemons and limes. In process of making orange with 40% straight alcohol for the first time. My husband has a still (Australia), and makes our own whatever we want. Our limoncello and limecello is very popular with friends and family, to the point where I have to squirrel it away! Can’t wait to try the orange.

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