I started my cordial experiments years ago with the one and only Limoncello. The boozey lemon-infused liquor was renowned in my household growing up, a favorite alongside Amaretto and Baileys. My parents always ended a fine meal with a little something sweet and powerful, and when I started sipping Limoncello 10 years ago, I knew precisely what drew them to the mix of fruity and strong. I imagine it to be a very tiny exclamation point at the end of a long and poetic sentence, tiny enough to be delicate but still powerful because, well, it’s an exclamation point!
There’s always Limoncello in my freezer (as I prefer it ice cold) and a larger stash in my cupboard, nestled between many other cordials that are busy infusing (a few I plan to share with you soon). This year, I thought I’d mix it up and order some Meyer lemons from California for a little something different.
Can you imagine the delight when a 15-pound box of these yellow gems show up on my door step? I opened the box and that heavenly aroma perfumed the air and, as I pull them out one by one, my pores too. I moved the basket of lemons around my kitchen for a few days just to infuse the scent into every cupboard and corner.
I’ve heard that Meyer lemon zest is a touch less potent than regular lemons when using in liquors so the very day I decided to start peeling the zest, I jumped onto Twitter to ask my friends and followers: What other flavor would you infuse in Meyer lemon liquor? I gave them three options of items I had on hand: lavender, cardamom or thyme.
Unfortunately, there was no clear winner… except maybe ME because I listened to you all and made a bottle of each. I now have one, two, three bottles of Meyer lemon liquor in my cabinet, each stewing with their individual flavor companion. Which one do you think will win out?
Perhaps I can make YOU a winner now. Post a comment below choosing the flavor that you think will taste the absolute best with Meyer lemons from the following: lavender, cardamom or thyme. Once I add the sugar syrup in 4 weeks, I’ll have a quick tasting with the Eat Boutique crew and pick a winner. We’ll choose someone at random from all the votes for that flavor and send you a special gift (wink, wink!) from little old me to little old you. A simple comment below could win you something pretty special and most definitely handmade. So get to the comments section now and make your own with my recipe below.
Meyer Lemon & Lavender, Cardamom or Thyme Liquor
- 1 bottle (750 ml) of good vodka (80 proof or stronger)
- 10 Meyer lemons, washed and dried
- 2 cups organic cane sugar
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons culinary lavender
- 3 cardamom pods, broken open so the seeds are exposed
- 8 springs of thyme
- 2 — 750 ml clean bottles with caps
- In a large, clean bottle (ideally, with a wide opening and a cover), pour the entire bottle of vodka. Very carefully, peel the yellow thin layer of zest off of each lemon, making sure to avoid taking up any of the white pith. (I use a simple potato peeler for this.) Place the zest strips and your chosen flavor companions in the same bottle that holds the vodka. Cover and hide it away in your cupboard for at least four solid weeks. The longer you stow it away, the better the resulting liquor. Every couple of days, I shake the bottle up a bit.
- When the four weeks are up, strain the vodka-zest mixture. Discard the zest and flavor companion, and evenly distribute the vodka into two 750 ml bottles (using the funnel). Over medium heat, gently boil the sugar with the water to make a simple syrup. This should take about 10 minutes. Once the sugar has dissolved, take the mixture off the stove and let it cool a short while (or as long as you can resist).
- Using the funnel, distribute the simple syrup evenly into the bottles with the vodka. The bottles won’t necessarily be filled to the top, but that’s okay. You want to be able to shake the concoction. Gently shake both bottles and put the bottles back in your cupboard for two weeks. (You really don’t have to do this extra step. The syrupy liquid is perfect right now. But I let it sit a little bit longer to get even more gorgeous and sweet.)
- Place the bottles in the freezer (or keep one in the cupboard) and pour an ounce or four every now and again when you need to relax or finish up a tasty meal. I'll be sure to report back on the best flavor combination soon!
Eat Boutique is an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista. After hosting pop-up markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie is now focused on opening her first permanent Eat Boutique–a food-retail concept space with a new way to the very best food. Her second cookbook, A New Way to Food: Recipes That Revamped My Pantry & Made Me Love Me, At Last, will be published by Roost Books/Penguin Random House in 2019. Her first cookbook, Food Gift Love, features more than 100 food gift recipes to make, wrap, and share and is available wherever you find favorite cookbooks.