The bright sweet flavor of limoncello and the spicy kick of rye whiskey team up with lemon juice to create a refreshingly sweet tart 3-ingredient Limoncello Rye Whiskey Sour. It's lemonade all grown up!
Why this recipe works
- Limoncello has its intensely sweet lemon flavor
- Rye whiskey adds a sharp zing of white pepper and caraway
- Limoncello cocktails are bright and refreshing
Warning...this post is more reminiscing than recipe. It’s about Spring, upcoming and past. Go ahead and skip down to the recipe if you want. I won't mind.
March is the time of year when I think about orange tree blossoms. They were blooming in our backyard when I brought my newborn daughter home for the first time. Just the smell alone transports me back being a new mom and holding my baby girl, with her velvety smooth skin and soft downy head.
** SIGH ** Good memories…
(hey, come back to us now!)
Ahem…as I was saying, I was thinking about Spring and orange tree blossoms, and I saw the bottle of homemade limoncello I made for that no-longer-newborn daughter’s bridal shower in the refrigerator door. I was looking for cocktails using limoncello when I saw a post for a Limoncello Whiskey Sour, and I decided that I needed to make one right away.
My way, of course.
Dreaming up a Limoncello Rye Sour
A couple of points here…first, I generally don’t drink whiskey cocktails. Why cover up all the wonderful flavor whiskey has with other stuff? Sure, cocktails may have layers of dimensionality, but I’d rather just savor the whiskey itself, and leave the cocktails to other spirits that need it (I’m looking at you, vodka!).
Second, I had a bottle of Spirit of York Rye Whiskey that my daughter and her new husband brought me from their honeymoon in Toronto. I thought that this combination would be a nice homage to her birth, her growth, and her wedding by using it instead of straight whiskey.
Friends, the Limoncello Rye Whiskey Sour was born!
Making this variation on a Whiskey Sour cocktail is super easy, just mix and shake. You'll find both the recipe and my tasting notes for this sweet, tart cocktail at the end of the post.
(This post is a mash up recipe and tasting then, huh?) Yup, think of it as a two-fer. You’re welcome.
What you need
All you need for this simple limoncello cocktail are 3 ingredients: limoncello, rye whiskey, and lemon juice.
[Side Note: Or should that be spelled whisky? Canadian whisky doesn't have the "e," but whiskey from the US does. To avoid spelling confusion, know where your spirit is from.]
If you want, you can top the cocktail with a splash of club soda. And don't forget to get a strip of zest from the lemon for garnish before juicing it.
How to make a whiskey sour with limoncello
Step 1: Get prepared
Place two low-ball glasses in the freezer to chill. This will keep the glass from warming the cocktail initially.
Zest a strip of lemon for the garnish. Juice the lemon into a small bowl using a citrus juicer. Set the juice aside.
Step 2: Shake the spirits
Add some ice to a cocktail shaker. Pour in the rye whiskey, limoncello, and lemon juice. Shake vigorously for about a minute.
Step 3: Strain & sip
Remove the glasses from the freezer. Add more ice to the chilled glasses and strain the cocktail into the glasses. If you want a bit of bubbly zing, add a splash of club soda (if desired) and garnish with the lemon zest.
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions you might have...
Limoncello is lovely served ice cold as a wonderful post-meal sip or mixed into cocktails that long for a zip of sweet, lemony tartness. For an easy refreshing cooler, mix it with sparkling water or sparkling wine.
The strength of the limoncello varies based on the proof of the vodka and the sugar content. On average, assume that the alcohol content is between about 25% and 30%ABV.
Depending on the individual expression, rye whiskey has flavors that can include almonds, walnuts, anise (licorice), caraway, and white pepper. When you want to pair it, look for recipes that feature butter, caramel, cinnamon and/or nutmeg, lemon, orange, and bitters in their flavor profiles. Some mainstay cocktail recipes are the Old Fashioned, the Manhatten, and of course, the Whiskey Sour.
Pro Tip: Baking with limoncello
Limoncello is great for sipping, either ice cold or mixed into cocktails like we did here. But did you know you can also use it for baking? Limoncello is intensely sweet and tart, so it brings its zing of lemony goodness to baked goods or glazes.
Glazed Limoncello Cake uses this flavor in both the cake and the glaze, and the result is delicious! Just know that when baking with booze the alcohol is cooked out, but not so with the glaze. Be aware if you're serving this tea bread to pregnant women and children.
Sweet, tart, and refreshing
This limoncello rye sour is bright and refreshing. There's the sharp zing of spice from the rye balanced by the intense sweetness from the limoncello.
This cocktail can get too tart if you're heavy handed with the lemon juice, so use less to start and adjust as necessary.
This limoncello cocktail recipe is lemonade grown up, just like my daughter. That brings to mind the lemon tree from that same backyard, and the lemonade stands both my daughters used to have. ** SIGH **
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Lemons, limes, and oranges can add brightness and maybe even a mouth-puckering tanginess to your desserts. Whether the recipe contains fresh squeezed juice or a citrus-flavored extract, you'll want to try some of these citrus recipes!
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Limoncello Rye Whiskey Sour Cocktail
- 3 ounces Spirit of York Rye Whiskey, or your favorite rye whiskey
- 2 ounces limoncello, homemade or store bought
- 1 ounce lemon juice, from 1 lemon (or less, to taste)
- splash club soda, optional
- Place two low-ball glasses in the freezer to chill.
- Zest a strip of lemon for garnish. Juice the lemon into a small bowl using a citrus juicer. Set the juice aside.
- Add some ice to a cocktail shaker. Pour in the rye whiskey, limoncello, and lemon juice.
- Shake vigorously for about a minute.
- Remove the glasses from the freezer. Add more ice to the chilled glasses and strain the cocktail into the glasses.
- Add a splash of club soda (if desired) and garnish with the lemon zest. Serve and enjoy!
Limoncello Rye Sour Tasting
At home, March 9, 2019
Limoncello Rye Sour
- Nose: lightly lemon, slight nutmeg
- Taste: starts tart, gets to “lemon head” sweetness, then nutmeg and caraway peek through
- Finish: lingering tartness behind the sweetness, fades quickly
- Comments: tartness is balanced nicely with the sweetness, and the spice from the rye adds interest