Italian cuisine is one of the most popular and beloved culinary traditions in the world. Pizza, pasta, focaccia, and gelato are everyone’s favorite foods, whether they’re in Italy, Japan, or the U.S.
Pasta and pizza aren’t the only culinary contributions Italy is famous for.
Italy is also famous for its beverages. Espresso and wine may come to mind, but there are still more delicious Italian beverages gaining ground abroad.
One such beverage is Limoncello, a lemon liqueur originating in southern Italy’s Amalfi coast. Limoncello combines lemon zest, water, sugar, and alcohol into a concentrated liqueur that tastes like the lemon syrup you’d pour over shaved ice.
Limoncello is candied lemon in liquid form and tastes amazing on its own. However, its sweet and concentrated lemon flavor makes this liqueur a favorite additive to cocktails.
Best Limoncello Cocktails
Below, I have compiled a list of the best Limoncello cocktails that show how a sweet citrus liqueur can combine with any type of spirit.
Blueberry Limoncello Cocktail
Limoncello not only serves as an additive to other spirits but also holds its own as the star of the show.
It may taste like a sweet lemon syrup, but it is a spirit itself, after all.
A blueberry limoncello cocktail, thus features limoncello as the alcoholic component, combining it with blueberry juice, lemonade, soda water, and ice for a boozy take on a summertime treat.
The tartness of the lemon blended with the subtle sweetness of the concentrated blueberry juice is as refreshing as it is tasty.
I will often use fresh lemon juice instead of lemonade if I want to cut back on the sugar content. You can also use a higher ratio of soda water to lemonade.
Mojitos are the ultimate summer beverage, usually using lime as the citrus additive.
A limoncello mojito takes you from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean by replacing lime with lemon. The technique for creating the perfect mojito remains the same in both hemispheres.
The limoncello mojito contains rum, limoncello, fresh mint, lemon slices, honey, and soda water.
You muddle the mint with lemon slices and honey to release the aromatic elements of citrus and mint.
You then add limoncello and rum to the mix, shake it up, and top it off with soda water.
I love the use of honey as opposed to sugar as it complements lemon flavor perfectly.
Limoncello Moscow Mules
Limoncello Moscow Mules are another scenario involving a citrus swap.
Where the standard Moscow Mule combines ginger beer, lime, and vodka, the limoncello Moscow Mule uses limoncello and lemon juice instead of lime to combine with ginger beer and vodka.
Lemon juice is much tarter than lime juice, so limoncello cuts the tartness with concentrated sweetness and adds an extra alcoholic kick to the mix.
You’ll get more than you bargained for with this refreshing and surprisingly alcoholic take on a classic.
I find the ginger beer to be spicy and welcome the super sweet and citrusy taste of limoncello to town down the spice without overpowering it with sweetness.
Raspberry Limoncello Cocktail
Like the blueberry limoncello cocktail, the raspberry limoncello cocktail combines raspberry juice, limoncello, lemonade, and soda water for a spiked raspberry lemonade.
A bubbly lemonade with fresh raspberry juice is delicious enough, but adding alcohol is the icing on the cake.
There are other versions of raspberry limoncello cocktails that combine limoncello with vodka and raspberry juice to create a limoncello and raspberry martini.
Whichever variation you choose, the fresher the ingredients, the better.
Raspberries are a seasonal fruit and very delicate, so I recommend making this beverage during the summer when raspberries are at their sweetest.
Bourbon Limoncello Cocktail
Classic bourbon cocktails include Old Fashioned, Manhattans, and Mint Juleps to name a few.
Bourbon is a smoother flavored Whiskey that pairs well with citrus and bitters, making it the perfect complement to a citrusy liqueur like limoncello.
I decided to test my theory, by using limoncello in an Old Fashioned to create the best bourbon limoncello cocktail.
To create this cocktail, you combine bourbon, limoncello, fruit preserves, lemon bitters, and orange bitters.
Since it’s a riff on the classic Old Fashioned, I used marmalade, but berry and peach preserves give it a summery taste.
Limoncello Champagne Cocktail
A wonderful brunch or evening cocktail, the limoncello champagne cocktail is bright, light, and dainty.
Champagne is a French sparkling wine that gets its name from the region where its grapes are cultivated. Italians have their own version of champagne known as Prosecco.
Both varieties are crisp and bubbly, so it doesn’t matter which you use. Champagne marries French and Italian culinary traditions into an elegant, international cocktail.
The Limoncello Champagne cocktail contains a shot of limoncello, Champagne, sparkling lemon soda water (San Pellegrino is optimal), and ice.
I love to prepare this cocktail as a brunch cocktail instead of the standard mimosa or bellini.
Limoncello Gin Collins
As you might know, a Tom Collins is a popular gin cocktail featuring gin, lemon juice, sugar, and soda water.
The Limoncello Gin Collins simply adds an extra layer of citrus, sweetness, and alcohol. You add a shot of limoncello to gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda for the ultimate, double-spiked lemonade.
In my opinion, limoncello is sweet enough to use without the added sugar, but everyone has different standards for sweetness.
Gin has a distinct herby flavor that pairs well with citrus. The Limoncello Gin Collins is so refreshing that you’re liable to gulp down a few just to cool off.
I’d call the Limoncello Lady the unofficial southern Italian summer punch.
It’s a simple three-ingredient cocktail containing lemonade, Prosecco, and limoncello.
Usually made in a pitcher for large parties, the Limoncello Lady is simple, refreshing, and a perfect balance of sweet and sour.
The dry and bubbly Prosecco is the perfect carbonated beverage to balance the sweetness from the lemonade and limoncello.
I might even take it a step further by macerating fresh mint and raspberries at the bottom of the pitcher to add even more freshness and a pop of color to the mix.
Limoncello Lemon Drop
The Lemon Drop Martini is no stranger to the cocktail scene.
It’s a delicate, sour, and super alcoholic drink that most of us have enjoyed at least once before graduating to the stiffer martinis.
The Limoncello Lemon Drop adds a few shots of limoncello to the standard Lemon Drop Martini a shaken combo of lemon juice, vodka, and ice.
The limoncello increases the alcohol content while also providing extra sweetness. It’s a dangerously delicious drink that you’ll only need one of if you know what’s good for you.
I like to garnish the rim of the Limoncello Lemon Drop with sugar and add a candied lemon peel spiral for good measure.
The Spritz may have a German name, but it originated in Northern Italy.
I guess you could consider the Spritz a German-Italian collaboration as its creation stems from German soldiers adding a spritz of soda water to neutralize the taste of the overpowering Italian wine during their WWI stints in Italy.
The Limoncello Spritz is a combination of soda water, Prosecco, and limoncello.
It’s the perfect aperitivo to savor during an outdoor cocktail hour.
The Prosecco isn’t the strong tasting agent in this cocktail but rather acts with the soda water to neutralize the strong lemon flavor inherent in the limoncello.
A less alcoholic take on the classic Tequila Sunrise, Limoncello Sunrise still gives you a gorgeous rainbow of colors and flavors to start your day.
It consists of limoncello, orange juice, grenadine, ice, and a maraschino cherry for garnish.
Limoncello has a much lower ABV than tequila, so it may take a few to get the party going.
It’s an exceedingly sweet cocktail as all ingredients have a high sugar content, so I recommend pairing it with a savory brunch meal like Eggs Benedict or Eggs Florentine.
Another option is to substitute the orange juice with pineapple juice for a more tropical take that’s equally as acidic.
Sparkling Limoncello Cocktail
Technically, a Sparkling Limoncello cocktail is a blanket statement that applies to most of the cocktails on my list.
The requirement for a sparkling cocktail is that it has a bubbly or carbonated beverage plus the main spirit, which in this case is limoncello.
Therefore, a Limoncello Spritz, Limoncello Lady, and Limoncello Champagne cocktails all fall under the Sparkling Limoncello Cocktail designation.
You could even combine a shot of limoncello with a shot of soda water, and you’d have a Sparkling Limoncello cocktail.
The wonderful thing about Limoncello is that it’s delicious enough to drink by itself and flavorful enough to use sparingly in combination with other mixers and spirits.
A nod to its roots, the Amalfi Martini honors limoncello as Southern Italy’s gift to the world.
Instead of using vodka like the lemon drop martini, the Amalfi Martini combines three ounces of limoncello with four ounces of gin along with lemon juice and fresh mint leaves.
You simply mix all ingredients in a metal shaker with ice and pour it out through a filter into a martini glass with a lemon slice garnish.
The combination of the herby taste of the gin with the strong citrus flavor is the perfect mix of earthy and aromatic.
When I have an elegant Italian-themed dinner party, the Amalfi Martini is my go-to cocktail. It’s incredibly alcoholic, so one is enough for the night.
Best Limoncello Cocktails
- Blueberry Limoncello Cocktail
- Limoncello Mojito
- Limoncello Moscow Mules
- Raspberry Limoncello Cocktail
- Bourbon Limoncello Cocktail
- Limoncello Champagne Cocktail
- Limoncello Gin Collins
- Limoncello Lady
- Limoncello Lemon Drop
- Limoncello Spritz
- Limoncello Sunrise
- Sparkling Limoncello Cocktail
- Amalfi Martini
Limoncello is yet another culinary gift bestowed by Italian gastronomy and yet another reason why Italian cuisine is the best in the world.
You don’t have to go to a fancy restaurant to enjoy a limoncello cocktail. A high-quality bottle of limoncello does the work for you.
Adding limoncello to any drink guarantees it to be a refreshing crowd-pleaser. My list of the best limoncello cocktails gives you plenty of ideas on how to showcase this delicious lemon liqueur.
Learn about other tasty aperitifs you can sip!