I’ve been creating, consuming and serving limoncello over a decade, and I’ve even visited Italy to see how the locals serve limoncello (that wasn’t the ONLY reason for my visit, but still). So I can give you a pretty definitive answer on how best to serve and drink limoncello.
Limoncello is properly served straight and ice-cold into a shot glass. Limoncello served at freezing temperatures is more viscous (syrup-y) than at room temperature. Because it warms quickly, it’s best to serve it in small portions such as a shot glass. Below are some other key tips.
That said, you probably want to appear suave and worldly to you friends, and that’s why you’re searching for this info. No judgment—I like to appear suave and worldly myself. So those guidelines above are the basics, but let’s expand a bit to kick it up a notch and really impress your pals.
I’ll be the first to admit that most of my early limoncello experiments were conducted with recycled liquor bottles and swing cap bottles I bought on the cheap. In fact, there’s plenty of photographic evidence of this on the site so I wouldn’t get far denying it. That’s fine for experimentation. But when it comes time to pour for your friends, you want it to be from a proper bottle.
If you bought your limoncello at the store, you pretty much have this whipped. Most store-bought bottles are fairly attractive and many have the frosted appearance that I prefer. But if you are making your own limoncello at home, you need to seek out some nice bottles of the same sort.
There are a number of sets of limoncello glasses that are purpose built for impressing your friends with your Italian heritage or just your liqueur-savviness. If you’re deep in the weeds like I am, that’s a perfectly acceptable route to choose.
For most folks, an elegant shot glass will also do the trick. I prefer taller shot glasses that are crystal clear. They look elegant and allow you to appreciate the color of the limoncello, which is one of the factors to appreciate in this liqueur. It’s a lovely yellow color.
Lastly, the pour itself. Take the bottle directly from the freezer to pour, don’t leave it out on the counter. The character of limoncello is heavily affected by its temperature and you need it to be freezing. I like to pour slowly and from a height that appears unsafe. It’s just cooler that way.
And BOOM, you have served the perfect glass of limoncello. Cheers!
Q: Can you drink limoncello straight?
A: Yes. Drinking it straight (and straight from the freezer) is by far the most common and preferred way to consume limoncello. Limoncello is considered a digestif (after-dinner drink), thought to aid digestion. It is much sweeter and generally lower in alcohol content than hard alcohols like vodka or whiskey.
Q: Can you drink limoncello on the rocks (with ice)?
A: You can do this—I have done it many times—but there are some caveats. I sometimes drink limoncello on the rocks to keep it ice cold for longer once it exits the freezer. However, it usually binds the ice to the glass and if you wait too long it will of course start to dilute your carefully balanced limoncello. If you must, a better solution is to use whiskey rocks which tend to have neither of those problems.
Q: Can you serve limoncello in a beer mug?
A: No. That is absolutely forbidden for a number of reasons. I can’t even believe you asked.