Limoncello Is The Perfect Fruity Base For Spritz Cocktails

When you think of a classic Italian summer spritz, you most likely picture the delightful Aperol spritz. The bitter-sweet beverage is an iconic apéritif, and even has a sunshine-like vibrant orange color. But it's well worth considering zesty limoncello, another Italian staple, for your next refreshing cocktail creation.

Traditionally made using citrus fruits from Italy's Amalfi Coast or the picturesque island of Capri, the highly aromatic liqueur gets its distinctive flavor from fresh untreated lemon peels that have been macerated in alcohol for a minimum of six days. The only things added are water and sugar, in the form of a simple syrup, which creates a fresh, fruity, and naturally sweet yellow drink.

You'd typically serve limoncello very cold, on its own, as an after-dinner drink. It's also commonly used in desserts, such as blueberry and limoncello drizzle cake. But the liqueur also makes a versatile fruity base that can easily be mixed into a bright, zingy spritz or other cocktail to be consumed any time of day, not just after a meal. And the good news is, it's also incredibly easy to make at home.

Limoncello spritz offers a taste of Italy with few ingredients

The beauty of a limoncello spritz is its elegant simplicity. It only requires three main ingredients: limoncello, prosecco, and club soda. You don't need any special equipment, and there are no fancy foams or complex methods to contend with. It's just a case of pouring the three liquids into a glass with some ice and stirring. Garnish the refreshing, sparkling spritz with a slice of fragrant orange or citrusy lemon if you like, and perhaps a basil leaf or sprig of thyme for extra fragrance and a Mediterranean feel. That's really all there is to it.

Using the right proportion of each ingredient is important, of course. The best starting point is a 3-2-1 ratio. That's three ounces of prosecco, two of limoncello, and one of club soda for a single serving, but it's also very easy to scale up if you're preparing a larger batch for a summer party. If you prefer a more intense and vibrant lemon flavor, then you could increase the amount of limoncello and use less prosecco. Go for a brut (less sweet) prosecco if you prefer a dry, crisp edge to the drink.

It's fine to use store-bought limoncello for a spritz, but to take it to the next level, consider making your own limoncello. It's an easy enough process, but remember to allow extra time if you're planning to do this, as it takes several days to fully infuse with fruity flavor.

More summery limoncello cocktails to try

Limoncello can be used in a wide variety of cocktails beyond a spritz — and these don't need to be complicated, either. The lemony liqueur goes great served simply with tonic water and ice for a refreshing summer sipper. Or if you fancy a shorter, stronger drink, then shake limoncello with gin, fresh lemon juice, and plenty of ice. You can always swap the lemon juice for club soda to make it a longer drink.

Alternatively, try incorporating limoncello into your regular favorite cocktails or mixed drinks. Shake limoncello with blanco tequila, fresh lemon juice, lemon sorbet, and agave syrup to make a sweet-sharp citrusy margarita that will appeal to all lemon lovers. Or, switch the regular vermouth for limoncello in a negroni. Just mix equal quantities of limoncello, gin, and Campari, and serve it over ice for a fresh spin on a classic.

If you fancy experimenting further, then try something a little more unusual. Shaking limoncello with vodka, lemon juice, and sage syrup will produce a well-rounded cocktail with a light herbal note. Garnish it with sage leaves and a touch of orange bitters. Or, fuse drink with dessert for an extra-refreshing take on the lemon sorbet cocktail, sgroppino. Traditionally made with lemon sorbet, prosecco, and vodka, try switching the vodka for the same amount of limoncello instead. It's the perfect end to an Italian-inspired dinner — or just a cooling pick-me-up on a hot summer's day.