Can You Make Limoncello With 80 Proof Vodka?


Limoncello, a lemon-flavored liqueur that hails from Italy, is a tasty spirit that can be enjoyed straight as well as mixed into cocktails. The liqueur is also simple enough to make in your own kitchen with only a handful of ingredients -- with vodka being high on the list. Limoncellos will vary in strength depending on the proof of the vodka, but the question remains, will 80 proof vodka be enough?

Original Recipe

  • The quickest limoncello recipes list lemons, vodka, water and sugar as their ingredients. Use a zester or potato peeler to scrape off the thin yellow skin from 10 lemons for each 750-ml bottle of vodka, then mix the yellow skins and vodka into a container, cover and let sit for four days. (Leave behind the white pith, which is bitter.) Mix seven parts water and five parts sugar in a saucepan, then simmer and stir until the sugar completely dissolves for simple syrup. Mix equal parts simple syrup and vodka-lemon peel mix, cover, let it sit for about a day, then strain the lemon skins out for homemade limoncello.

Impotent Potables

  • Limoncello's other ingredients will dilute the vodka to about half of its original potency; 80 proof vodka, which has an alcohol content of 40 percent, will yield a limoncello at about 40 proof, or 20 percent. Most mass-produced limoncellos are about 60 proof, or 30 percent alcohol, which means limoncello made with 80 proof vodka will fall a little short in its potency -- though its taste will be about the same.


  • Instead of flooding the limoncello with more 80 proof vodka to raise its alcohol content, try a few other methods. The simplest one is to make the limoncello with a higher proof vodka -- with 100 proof vodka yielding the best results. Another is replacing about one-eighth of the vodka with a high-proof grain alcohol. One last option is to reduce the original vodka by about a quarter, then adding that much lemon-infused vodka to the final batch.

Cocktail Consumption

  • Once you have a limoncello to your liking, you can drink it any way you like. Storing homemade limoncello in your freezer will let it keep for a years and provide you with an already chilled liqueur for sipping or shooting. For cocktails, mix one part limoncello and two parts vodka -- 80 proof will do -- for a limoncello martini, or mix two parts limoncello, three parts vodka, and one part each lemon juice and simple syrup for a lemon drop martini.

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