HATCHCHILETA MARGARITA, Hatch Chiles, Blood Orange & Cilantro

Frieda's Produce kindly sent me a nice box of late summer produce and tucked in there were some gorgeous blood oranges along with a bag of beautiful Hatch New Mexico chiles. Right off the bat my mind went straight to some roasted Hatch chile infused tequila that would be just righteous in blood orange margaritas. I turned on my broiler and got to work on the hatch chiles for the infused tequila.

You'll notice the Hatch Chile Cilantro Infused Tequila has honey in the recipe. You'll find out why I added honey as you read the article, but I'm not writing any spoilers here, you'll just have to read the post. Technically adding any sweetener makes it a liqueur, but for this margarita it works just fine as tequila since the honey balances nicely with and brings forward the blood orange.

As for the margarita recipe, here you go. You can thank me by showering me with cash and gifts.

2 Oz. Hatch Chile Cilantro Infused Tequila Liqueur 
2 Oz. Fresh Squeezed Blood Orange Juice
1 Tsp. Agave Syrup
(I put in 2 teaspoons, that sweet tooth of mine!)
Juice of 1/2 Fresh Lime*

GARNISH: 1 Tbsp. Sea Salt with 1/2 teaspoon of La Chinata Smoked Paprika from Gourmet Delights for rim, Blood Orange Peel, Roasted Hatch chile, 2 Sprigs of Cilantro

TOOLS:  One small plate for salt/paprika rim, Rocks (Old Fashioned) glass, Cocktail shaker

Rub your glass rim with a blood orange slice then dip into the salt/paprika mixture. Chill your glass in the freezer.
Fill your cocktail shaker with ice then add the Hatch chile tequila liqueur, blood orange juice, agave syrup, and lime juice.
Shake until well chilled then strain over ice in your chilled rocks glass.
Garnish with a roasted hatch chile pepper wrapped in a blood orange peel and a sprig of cilantro. Express the oils from a sprig of cilantro onto the top of your margarita and enjoy!


 * USE FRESH LIME JUICE! Did you know that citrus can go bad within 15 minutes of being cut open? It definitely loses a lot of nutrients and flavor. How much more time does it take to cut open a lime and squeeze it as you make your cocktail than twisting the cap off some bottled stuff? Right?

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This is a pretty detailed post for a Roasted Hatch Chile Tequila recipe but, if you love your heat, stay with me because I'm going to tell you why you can't make this tequila infusion with anything but the real deal, the famous Hatch chiles, the BEST chiles in the world!
Photo Courtesy of Gourmet Delights.com

If you've ever spent any time in New Mexico in fall you will be familiar with the smell and sight of roasting "Hatch" (New Mexico) green chiles. In late summer through early fall, on nearly every street corner, you will encounter a smoking, rolling black canister of New Mexico's famous "state vegetable" perfuming the air. (Yes, technically, chiles are a fruit but don't tell that to N.M. legislators!) When those grated black roasters start popping up you know hatch chile roasting season has arrived and fall is right around the corner. It's New Mexico's version of the pumpkin patch but it brings a lot more heat to the season!

Photo Courtesy of Gourmet Delights.com
Similar to the familiar Anaheim (which is actually the California child of the New Mexico chile), New Mexico chiles come in a range of heat levels, are green when young and turn red as they ripen. Grown in and around Hatch, New Mexico, Hatch chiles are from the New Mexico No. 9 chile developed by Dr. Fabián Garcia back in 1888 at what is now New Mexico State University (NMSU). While New Mexico chiles are grown throughout the state, the Hatch chile truly comes only from the Hatch area, though the lines have gotten a little blurred over time and the name "hatch" stolen by other chile growers to trade off its culinary caché.

There are a number of varieties and hybrids of the New Mexico and Hatch chiles developed by NMSU's College of Agricultural  including: NuMex Big Jim, NuMex Sandia, NuMex Joe E. Parker  New Mexico 6-4, NuMex Heritage 6-4, NuMex Heritage Big Jim, Barker Extra Hot and NuMex R Naky. Each has it's own flavor and heat level which is then influenced by the soil and growing conditions, but the New Mexico No. 9 is the heritage (heirloom) of them all.

Hatch chiles are a staple of New Mexican cuisine. You'll find them in and on everything everywhere there's food or drink being served in the state. They are so ubiquitous that when you order nearly any dish in New Mexico you are invariably asked, "Red or Green?" meaning red chile sauce or green. The green ones are usually roasted and the red ones are usually dried before they are used in cooking. Supposedly green is milder and red hotter but that all depends on the chile so when in doubt, ask. If you can't decide which sauce you want then you order Christmas and you get both.

I spent quite a few summers in New Mexico doing art shows where  I was exposed to many Hatch chile seasons. Prior to this time I had a somewhat serious reaction to capsicum in chilis, my whole mouth would blister and my palate could go dead for hours, sometimes days.  This made my dining experiences in New Mexico a bit of a hazard for the first few years, but thanks to continued exposure I was able to acclimate my mouth to the heat and even begin to enjoy it. Even though I'm still not going to pop a raw pepper in my mouth, I fell in love with the flavors of roasted chiles, in particular the New Mexico varieties, and started to incorporate them into my food and drink.

When I was bemoaning my lack of true, authentic beloved Hatch chiles last week, Frieda's Produce kindly stepped in and sent me a huge box filled with the sweet and spicy, green lovelies for my cocktail endeavors. I immediately roasted them and put them (some, others are being hoarded for cooking) into tequila!

You'll notice I added honey to my infusion below so, technically, this makes it a "liqueur" and not simply infused liquor. Why did I add honey? Because I did want to use some of my chile tequila for shots and honey will soften the punch of the heat from the chiles. It's not really enough honey to make this very sweet, just enough to cool down the heat. Remember I'm a bit of a wuss when it comes to peppers and these Hatchies were getting pretty close to my pain threshold! Why do you think honey is always served with the sopaipillas as the traditional New Mexican dessert? Because honey will cool the heat from the dinner you just ate!


(Inspired by Frieda's Hatch Chile Tequila)

5 Roasted, Peeled Hatch Chiles
(Roasting instructions below)
1 - 750 ml. Bottle of Añjeo Tequila
3 Sprigs of Fresh Cilantro
Zest of 1/2 Lime
2 Tbsp. Honey

TOOLS: Quart infusion jars, Funnel, Metal Strainer, Cheesecloth

Combine the roasted Hatch chiles, lime zest and honey with the tequila in one of your quart jars.
Gently squeeze the cilantro to express the oils over the jar then drop the cilantro in.
Allow to infuse for 3, and up to, 5 days, shaking the jar often.
Start taste testing after the second day for level of flavor and heat, the longer it infuses the stronger, and hotter, it becomes. (I did 3 days, I still have that lingering fear of blisters.)
Strain through a cheesecloth lined metal strainer into a clean jar, toss the detritus and enjoy in some of my cocktails below.


I forgot and within 10 minutes of peeling my roasted peppers my hands were burning like hellfire! Don't touch your nose, eyes, or mouth during this process either, just trust me on this.
Clean your chiles then place in a single layer on a baking sheet and broil each side just until the skin turns black. Mine took about 12 -15 minutes on the first side at a distance of 4 inches from the broiler. The second side was much quicker. Keep a close watch or your chiles will be mush.
Immediately place the roasted peppers into a plastic bag to steam for 20 minutes. This will make the skin easier to remove.
To peel, grab the chile by the stem and pull it off, this will remove the majority of seeds as well. Then slid the chile between your fingers to push it out of the skin. Discard stem, seeds and skin. Do NOT rinse the chiles or you will remove the flavor oils.
Don't be worried by the small amount of char that might be left in your chili, that's just a flavor enhancement.
Use or freeze, the chiles supposedly get hotter with freezing but I couldn't really tell, they're hot either way to me!

  • Chile is the pepper, chili is a stew.
  • Those dried red chile wreaths you see hanging from nearly every doorway are called ristras and are a traditional drying method of chiles.
  • The drier and hotter the weather, the hotter the chile.
  • The official "state question" of New Mexico is "Red or Green?", adopted in 1999.
  • Hatch, New Mexico hosts The Hatch Valley Chile Festival on Labor Day weekend every year.

Try your newly hatched Roasted Hatch Tequila in my HATCHCHILETA MARGARITA. It's also a great spirit for spicing up some Bloody Marys and could really lend some extra flavor and heat to many of my Mucho Margaritas.

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Lavender Infused KIWI DAIQUIRI in Honor of Sasha Petraske


"Cocktails are not worth intellectualizing, they are just something to be experienced."
~ Sasha Petraske
March 16, 1973 – August 21, 2015

To the shock and sorrow of the entire cocktail community, a legend in the bar and cocktail industry, Sasha Petraske, passed away on August 20th at the age of 42. Petraske, who revolutionized the bar and cocktail scene in 1999 with his speakeasy styled bar Milk & Honey, was one of the forerunners of the craft cocktail upsurge, specializing in pre-Prohibition drinks with 1920's style flair.

His approach to happy hour was simple and honest. Make a great cocktail with great ingredients, create an urbane and gracious ambiance for guests and be humble about it.

"The fact that people talk about cocktails like one might talk about wine, which you have to grow, is laughable. A cocktail is a simple thing, what matters is if you make it right."

Milk & Honey had a famous set of House Rules that echoed his philosophy, my particular favorites being Rules #1 and #7. Frankly, I think every drinking venue, in fact the world in general, could benefit from these edicts.

Mr. Petraske was a force and an innovator in the world of liquid refreshments and he will be greatly missed.
To honor him for being instrumental in bringing care and craft back to cocktails, I have created a new Daiquiri recipe, a fresh kiwi take on one of his favorite cocktails, the Daiquiri:

The Lavender Infused


2 Oz. Aged Rum
1 Oz. Fresh Lime Juice
1 Oz. Fresh Golden Kiwi, Peeled & Diced
(Directly below the recipe is a short video showing how to peel a kiwi in seconds!)
(Thanks to Frieda's Produce for the best seasonal Golden Kiwis available!)
Pinch of Fleur de Mer (Sea Salt)
1 Oz. Lavender Simple Syrup
(Recipe below)
4 Oz. Crushed Ice

GARNISH: 1 Slice of Golden Kiwi, 1 Lime Peel

TOOLS: Blender, Jigger, Cocktail shaker, Coupe glass

Chill your coupe in the freezer.
Fill your blender with the ice then add in the rum, lime juice, golden kiwi chunks, lavender simple syrup, dash of salt and pulse until blended.
Pour into your chilled glass, garnish and toast to the memory of Mr. Petraske along with rest of us this coming Monday, August 31st at 9 p.m.


1 C. Water
1/2 C. Sugar
1 Tbsp. Dried Lavender

Boil the water, sugar and lavender, stirring occasionally. Once the water boils, lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve and cool.
Cheers and Thank you, Mr. Petraske. You made the world of cocktails better.

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Whiskey Sour Recipe Art available Here
Image ©2015 by TheMartiniDiva.Com. All Rights Reserved.
No permission given to copy, distribute, share, print or reproduce without prior licensing agreement. 
Most likely descended from vintage punch recipes that followed the ratios of 1 strong (spirits), 2 sweet (sugars, sweeteners), 3 Sour (citrus, acidic elements), 4 weak (water, ice or mixers), the Whiskey Sour is one of the earliest of the sour family of cocktails. Kind of a great uncle to other sours like Margaritas, Daiquiris, the Aviation and the Sidecar, it is a much aligned cocktail that has suffered badly from lazy versions that employ bottled sour mixes instead of the fresh lemon juice and sugar/simple syrup called for in original recipes.

When Jerry Thomas published his recipe in "The Bartender’s Guide" in 1862 it looked like this:

"1 large tea-spoonful of powdered white sugar dissolved in a little Seltzer or Apollinaris water.
The juice of half a small lemon.
1 wine-glass of Bourbon or rye whiskey.
Fill the glass full of shaved ice, shake up and strain into a claret glass. Ornament with berries."

Aside from the atavistic measurements and Victorian era language, pretty much what one should expect from a real Whiskey Sour. If you're interested, on the same page, Thomas also lists recipes for the Gin Sour,  Santa Cruz Sour and the Brandy Sour.

If you're a fan of sours, you need to take another look at this neglected but honorable cocktail of a bygone era but make sure you do so with a good whiskey, fresh lemon juice with real sugar and - please - leave the sour mixes to gather dust on the store shelf.

3 Parts Whiskey
2 Parts Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Part Simple Syrup*
Ice Sphere, Optional

GARNISHES: Orange slice, Maraschino cherry
TOOLS: Rocks (Old Fashioned) glass if over ice, Coupe or Cocktail glass if up, Cocktail shaker


Add the whiskey, lemon juice and simple syrup to an ice filled cocktail shaker.
Shake until well chilled.
Strain over ice into a rocks glass or straight up into a coupe or cocktail  glass.
Garnish with the orange slice and a REAL Maraschino cherry.


BOSTON SOUR - add some egg white.
NEW YORK SOUR - float 1/4 Oz. Red Wine.
AMARETTO SOUR - Amaretto replaces the whiskey.
SANTA CRUZ SOUR - replace the whiskey with Rum.

* Traditional recipes call for "gomme" syrup which is simple syrup with gum arabic added to keep the sugar from crystallizing. Not necessary if you prepare fresh simple syrup properly and use it frequently. The gum arabic also added some body but that can easily be introduced by adding an egg white which will also add a lovely foam top. Of course, technically you are then drinking the above mentioned Boston Sour.
National Whiskey Sour Day is celebrated every August 25th.
 My Whiskey Sour Cocktail Recipe Art
is available on art prints, bar accessories clothing, decor, stationery and other gifts at MartiniDivaBoutique.Com

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After I saw a tweet from McCrea's Candies for their Single Malt Scotch Caramels, retweeted and commented on it, they generously sent me a lovely assortment of the various flavors of their handcrafted caramels so I could apply some happy hour magic and turn them into cocktails.
The say on their website "No Chemicals, No Corn Syrup, No Compromise" and that's evident the moment you pop one in your mouth. They are creamy, melt-in-your mouth morsels of true, really natural, caramel excellence. It was a real challenge for me to keep from eating them all up before they ended up in any booze.
As for infusing my cocktails with them, I realized the easiest way to do this was to turn them into liquid form. The only way to do that, without altering their culinary quality, was to infuse them directly into the spirits themselves. As it turned out, I couldn't have made a better decision. These particular caramels dissolved perfectly in the liquors, had very little sediment to filter out because they were all natural, and they imparted the most amazing creaminess to each of the spirits I used. I've used caramels before in infusions, but never to this high degree of finished product.  I ended up with really nice quality caramel liquors with each of the spirits I chose to pair them up with.

McCrea's Caramels
Tapped Maple in Bourbon
Mad Vanilla in Vodka
Ginger Fusion in Dark Rum
Basil Cayenne in Tequila
Cafe Noir in Courvoisier
Single Malt Scotch in Drambuie
Since I'm a big bourbon drinker I thought my favorite would be the Tapped Maple and bourbon, and it was really good, especially on ice cream, but I was very happily surprised by the Cafe Noir in the Courvoisier and the Basil Cayenne in the tequila. I also loved the Ginger Infusion in the dark rum, and I'm not a huge ginger fan. The Mad Vanilla in vodka was the best caramel vodka I've ever tried, it beat the large brand versions in real caramel flavor by a mile.
All of the infusions were perfect served straight, chilled and at room temperature, as a dessert drink but I did apply some as ingredients in cocktails and you'll find those recipes below.
As for the candies right out of the wrapper, as I said before, they are so good I almost gobbled them all up. They are not overly sweet, the balance of the ingredients hits nearly every taste sensation, the flavors did not overpower that lovely caramelized sugar taste and they really do melt in your mouth. The salted caramels were a big personal favorite.
The only negative comment I can make is I didn't care for the actual granules of coffee in the Cafe Noir caramel. You don't notice the coffee until the very end of the candy, after the sweet, creamy texture has almost completely dissolved, but that granular feel of the tiny bits of bitter coffee right at the end was not to my personal liking, but I LOVED the coffee flavor of the caramel. If you're fond of chocolate covered espresso beans, you might like the burst of almost pure coffee bean as a counterpoint to the decadent sweet, much like enjoying an espresso with dessert. It's a matter of taste and differences in palates.  Of course, this was not an issue when I did the infusion because I filtered the Cafe Noir Courvoisier and the bits of coffee bean were not present in the final liquor!
Other combinations to try?
Rosemary Truffle Sea Salt with gin, Deep Chocolate and Tapped Maple in vodka, rum or bourbon and the Ginger Infusion in sake. There's a lot of infusion possibilities with the flavor line from McCrea's, not to mention the kinds of ice creams you can melt these over and brownies and cookies you can enhance with a few McCrea's caramels.
As for those infusions I tested out, here is the recipe for full 750 milliliters bottles of liquor. I didn't have enough caramels of each flavor to do a full sized bottle, so I used one caramel per ounce of spirit. (Not complaining a bit, the folks at McCrea's were more than bountiful in their gift!)

25 McCrea's Caramels
1 - 750 Ml. Bottle of Booze
TOOLS: Quart size infusing jars, medium metal strainer, cheesecloth, coffee filters, spouted 4 cup capacity measuring cup, funnel. You can also get some nice capped bottles for the final liqueur or you can just pour back into your liquor bottle.
  • Make sure your infusing jars (and storage jars if you're using them) are cleaned and sterilized.
  • Unwrap the caramels and add them to your infusing jar then simply pour your chosen spirit on top.
  • Let the caramels dissolve, shaking the bottles as often as possible to speed the process and keep the candy from sticking together. The infusion will take a day or two at most. It will be hard to tell if your caramels are completely dissolved because as they dissolve the liquor becomes creamy and it's hard to see, but two days is enough, especially if you're shaking the bottles often.
  • The final step is to strain your liqueur into your spouted measuring cup, first through cheesecloth, then, little by little, through coffee filters.
  • Pour through the funnel into your storage bottle and store in the refrigerator.
  • The final product should last up to 6 months, but trust me, you won't have it around that long.
I used the Mad Vanilla Caramel Vodka in my Salted Caramel Macchiato by replacing this caramel infused vodka for Pinnacle's Salted Caramel Vodka.
The Cafe Noir Caramel Courvoisier is marvelous in a cup of fresh coffee.

1-1/2 Oz. Ginger Fusion Caramel Rum
1 Oz. Apple Pucker
1 Oz. Apple Cider
Caramel Sauce
Drizzle some caramel sauce into the bowl of your cocktail glass then immediately place in the freezer to freeze the drizzle in place. 
Shake all the other ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker, pour into your chilled glass and enjoy.
1-1/2 Oz. Basil Caramel Tequila
1 Oz. Dark Creme de Cacao
2 Tbsp. Half & Half 
1 Tbsp. Orange Liqueur
Cocoa & Sugar
Dip your glass rim in some chocolate syrup then into the cocoa sugar then chill glass in freezer.
Add the Basil Caramel Infused Tequila, Dark creme de cacao, orange liqueur and half & half to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
Shake until icy cold then pour into your rimmed glasses.
Garnish with the basil sprig and an orange slice and enjoy.
If you want to make great cocktails use great ingredients. McCrea's made these caramel candy infusions great. Frankly, I  had very little to do and I loved that!

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The AVIATION COCKTAIL Recipe and History

The Aviation Cocktail, basically a violet infused gin sour, was created by Hugo Ensslin, head bartender at the Hotel Wallick in New York, in the 1900's. Published in Ensslin's 1916 "Recipes for Mixed Drinks" his recipe called for 1-1/2 ounces of El Bart gin, 3/4 of an ounce of lemon juice, 2 dashes of Maraschino liqueur and 2 dashes Crème de Violette, a violet liqueur which gives the cocktail its singular pale blue-violet color.

Harry Craddock's 1930 "Savoy Cocktail Book" lists the recipe as two-thirds dry gin, one-third lemon juice, and two dashes of Maraschino liqueur, leaving out the Creme de Violette completely. This is the cocktail you will likely receive in most bars because, until Rothman and Winter came out with their version in 2007, Crème de Violette was no longer in existence. It is still difficult to find (though can be found online at BevMo and other web retailers), but frankly, this recipe is not an Aviation, lacking both the floral notes of the violet flavor and distinctive blue color and should not be called such. It's understandable that most bars won't stock Crème de Violette as it is not used in that many cocktails but if they don't an Aviation should not be on their drinks menu.

Crème Yvette is sometimes substituted in versions that call for Crème de Violette but it's not a true violet liqueur as it uses a combination of berries and orange peel with the violet. As a result, I find this liqueur too fruity, too heavy and the violet notes too faint for the original intentions of the Aviation. Besides, it's upwards of $50 per bottle! If I were to pick any substitution at all it would be to use the essence of another floral element, adding in a drop or two of hibiscus essence or even B'lure, though both would fly away from the wild blue yonder color of the original drink, the hibiscus turning the drink a distinct pink color and the B'lure changing from blue to fuchsia as it interacts with the lemon juice. So, not an Aviation either!

If you want to stick as close as possible to the original Aviation, then buy yourself a bottle of Rothman and Winters Crème de Violette, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur and some good dry gin!



2 Oz. Aviation Gin (come on, you have to, it's called Aviation!)
1/4 Oz. Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo Recommended)
1/2 Oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 Oz. Crème de Violette

TOOLS: Cocktail (Martini) glass, Cocktail shaker, Hawthorn Strainer

GARNISHES: Lemon Twist, Homemade (or Luxardo) Maraschino Cherry


Chill your glass in the freezer.
Add the gin, Maraschino liqueur, lemon juice and Crème de Violette to an ice filled cocktail shaker and shake until well chilled.
Strain into your chilled glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and a Maraschino cherry.

Like Raymond Reddington (James Spader in NBC'sThe Blacklist) says in The Freelancer episode, "It's from the '20s, tastes like spring, doesn't it?"

BLUE MOON - Leave out the Maraschino liqueur.
MOONLIGHT - Replace the Maraschino liqueur with Cointreau.
CASINO - Leaves out the Crème de Violette, adds a dash of Orange Bitters.

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There are many stories that pop up about the beginnings of Limoncello and it's hard to authenticate fact from fiction.

One story says that in the late 19th century, Vincenza Canale, and innkeeper on the Isle of Capri was serving her homemade lemon liqueur to guests as a "digestivo" - an after dinner digestive aid. Word spread, requests were made for bottles and the family began to bottle the "limoncello". Today the descendants of Signora Canale run one of the leading Limoncello companies, Limoncello di Capri.

The second most prevalent story is centered around Maria Antonia Farace who made a sweet lemon extract from lemons in her garden. Extracts are alcohol based and supposedly her nephew took this one step further and introduced limoncello to the world shortly after the first World War.

Other stories tell of fishermen of antiquity in Amalfi who braced themselves against the cold winds of the sea with a shot of lemon liqueur and still another tale is that of Monks bringing lemoncello to "fruition" - pardon my bad pun. (Monks always seem to pop up when it comes to liquor and history, have you noticed??? It often makes me think they weren't spending as much time on contemplation of God as they would have us believe. . . .)

One fact stands out amongst all the speculation - Massimo Canale, grandson of Vencenza Canale - started producing LIMONCELLO at Limoncello di Capri and, officially in 1988, he patented his formula and trademarked the name.


or How to make Lemoncello

18 Organic Lemons with the thickest skin you can find
1 - 750ml Bottle of 100 proof Mid to High Grade Vodka
4 Cups of Regular Table Sugar
5 Cups of Water
OPTIONAL:  4 Vanilla Beans
Please Note: The Traditional Lemoncello recipe does NOT call for vanilla!

Microplane Grater
Sterile Cheesecloth Bag
Large Strainer
Stack of Fluted Paper Coffee Filters OR
1 Flat Bottom Permanent Coffee Filter
2 Infusing Jars or Bottles with Tight Lids
Serving Bottle (you can use the original vodka bottle or get some decorative bottles online)

Zest all your lemons with the microplane grater.  DO NOT zest to the point of seeing the white rind!  If you zest into the rind your Lemoncello will be bitter.  Your lemons should still be a pale yellow after being zested.

Put all your lemon zest into a cheesecloth bag (you can make your own with a sheet of sterile cheesecloth and a sterile string).  I find doing this saves me a lot of time in the filtering and straining process at the end of distillation.  Drop the bag of lemon zest into your infusion jar and tighten the lid for a good seal.

*If you opted for adding the vanilla - split open the beans, scrape out the seeds and add these to your lemon/vodka mix.  Adding vanilla does not make a classic Lemoncello but it does lend a little extra sweetness and a kind of a mellowness.

Store in a cool dark place for a minimum of ten days and up to a month and a half.  Remember the longer the distillation the richer the lemon flavor.  I always do the whole month and a half.  If you choose, shake the bottle once a day - at least in the first ten days.

While your Lemoncello is getting it's beauty rest you can take your original vodka bottle, soak it in water and remove the label and prepare a fun label to attach to the finished product. Feel free to use any of my blank recipe cards as your label - just print it on paper instead of card stock.  After I attach my labels I usually put a nice wide piece of clear tape over it to keep it from getting wet and running.

Since you have a month and a half to wait you could also. learn a little Italian, buy a nice vacation wardrobe and take an actual trip to Italy!  Just because you're a parent to be doesn't mean you can't enjoy yourself before the baby comes!

After the first distillation process (and after your lovely vacation), prepare a simple syrup by combining the sugar and the water, bringing it to a boil until the sugar has dissolved then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the cooled simple syrup to your lemon/vodka infusion, stir until completely mixed. Simple syrup is mother's milk for maturing Lemoncello.

Replace your jar lid and send your baby Lemoncello back to it's dark corner to nap (distill) one more time - again for a minimum of ten days and up to another month and a half.  The longer you allow for distillation the smoother your finished product will be!  A happy Lemoncello is a rested Lemoncello.

Now, comes time for dumping that little diaper of lemon zest in it's cheesecloth pamper and freshening up your matured Lemoncello for it's true purpose in life - to be enjoyed as an aperitif or in a cocktail.  Just throw the whole bag out and set up for the straining process.

Next set your metal strainer over another infusion jar and pour the lemoncello through it twice to catch any of the particles that escaped the cheesecloth bag.  Rinse the strainer out.

Now set the strainer back over the other infusion jar and set a fluted coffee filter in it then pour the Lemoncello through this. Do this at least twice - I do it five times. If you're using the permanent filter rinse it thoroughly between strainings. The liqueur will filter slowly, be patient.  When the liquid stops flowing - even if you see some liquid in it - throw this out and start with a new or freshly cleaned filter. What is still residing in the filter is what you are trying to filter out.  The more filtered your Lemoncello, the prettier the color, the purer the liqueur and the better it will taste.

You are now ready to send your Lemoncello out into the world and into it's own residence - you're going to bottle your Lemoncello.  Sterilize your serving bottles (you can do this several ways - you can bake the bottles in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour or you can boil them for ten minutes.)  Allow them to cool/dry completely then pour your Lemoncello in using a funnel and add your label.

Yup, your baby is back but just for a week - maybe!  If you allow your bottled Lemoncello to "rest" for a bit it will get even smoother.  The longer the rest, the smoother it will get.  Give it at least a week - then, if you can't stand it any longer, kick that baby back out into the world of Happy Hour.

I like to keep my Lemoncello in the freezer because it's wonderful ice cold and in a nice shooter glass for a quick and easy aperitif or pick me up.  It also makes a nice palate cleanser and, of course, I make a lot of fun and interesting martinis with it!  I'm very proud of my Lemoncello and I encourage you to give birth to your own!

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