The Seersucker 751/Cocktail and photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

The Seersucker 751/Cocktail and photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

Donna asked to shoot a cocktail. I said, “Go ahead.” She said, “I want to do a Sidecar.” I said, “It’s summertime and hot, how about something refreshing?”

She remembered a bottle of limoncello that she’d bought in a moment of nostalgia, recalling a time when she’d enjoyed drinking it with my mom. “I want to shoot ice-cold shots of it,” she said. But then she tasted it straight. She found it cloyingly sweet and knew she’d never drink it like this (and wondered how she could have such fond memories of it). She did a little research and found a limoncello cocktail using gin. She tried it. The gin clashed with the limoncello. She found one calling for grilled thyme. I told her I didn’t like thyme in beverages, grilled or otherwise (grilled?!).

She moved to the more neutral vodka, which worked better. But it needed a little oomph, as limoncello is basically lemony, 40-proof simple syrup. Grand Marnier, I thought, would give it some complexity and maintain the citrus motif. Correct! And with the two sweet liqueurs, a bold squeeze of fresh lemon juice for brightness and balance. Topping it off with fizzy water, we had a truly refreshing cocktail for the summertime heat. If it’s daylight and hot, add more soda water and you won’t get bombed before dark.

The Seersucker 751

  • 0.5 ounce/15 grams Grand Marnier (or other orange liqueur)
  • 1 ounce/30 grams limoncello
  • 1.5 ounces/45 grams vodka
  • 2 to 4 ounces/60 to 120 grams soda water (or to taste)
  • 1 solid squeeze of lemon
  1. Combine the Grand Marnier, limoncello, and vodka in a highball glass.
  2. Fill the glass with ice and add soda water to taste.
  3. Squeeze a wedge or disc of lemon into the drink.

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© 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.



15 Wonderful responses to “Friday Cocktail Hour: Limoncello Cocktail”

  • Allen

    I’m staying out of this one, may try a little in the future with Grand Marnier.

    Sounds delicious and likely leading to more crunk post.

    There’s drunk post, crazy post and a combination of the two – which would be crunk post, my specialty, like my limoncello, which has never looked so beautiful. Great shot Donna!
    Cheers, happy Friday in July all!

  • Michael Villar

    Thyme in a cocktail can add a nice element. I’ve had it a few times, but never grilled. That’s strange. I have some limoncello tucked in the back of the liquor cabinet. Thanks for giving me an excuse to whip it out.

  • Erik

    I feel like I would be kicked out of the family if I didn’t mention that lemoncello doesn’t have to be “lemony, 40-proof simple syrup”. I’m not in the mood to live dangerously and wind up in a ditch by divulging the family recipe but I highly recommend experimenting with making some yourself.

    Truly there is no better example I can think of as to how you can transform a small handful of ingredients into something divine.

    Thanks for the idea, this will definitely be used at the next family gathering!


    • Elke

      Yes – have not had the 40-proof version. We usually make it with our Meyer lemons and 100-proof vodka. So easy! We either have it chilled from the freezer in small glasses or have poured it over vanilla ice cream or in a cocktail with tequila and several other ingredients – quite lethal.

      • Frank Ball

        PLEASE, walk me through this process! Have unlimited access to Meyer Lemons (really!), and several prolific vodka bushes (joking!). But the request is real! Please tell me how you do this!!

  • Dominic V

    And the name comes from…? (My guess: the date MR has first worn seersucker this year?)

    Vespers on the go here (UK), having just found a bottle of Lillet amongst last summer’s Burgundy haul.

    • ruhlman

      The name comes from the rather obvious need for a gender neutral summer-time name, but I cannot divulge the significance of the number.

  • Chelsea

    Oh this sounds great! And useful – this winter I brewed up a bottle of limoncello to make use of the lemons from my tree, all without thinking of what I would do with that bottle of alcohol now sitting in my freezer.

  • Catherine

    I’m a bit confused by the conversion in metric to grams of liquid. A fluid ounce is a measure of volume, and a gram is a measure of weight.
    A dry ounce is a measure of weight, however. In one dry ounce, there are 28.35 grams, but this is not a “fluid ounce” (volume). To know the weight of one fluid ounce, we would need to know the density of the substance so we could derive the weight per given volume (grams per fluid ounce) or volume per given weight (fluid ounces per gram)

  • Catherine

    …….Clicked “post” too quickly.
    Shouldn’t it be ounces to millilitres?

  • MikeNicoletti

    This is what I don’t understand about limoncello that you buy in general… I make it from scratch at home with lemons and grain alcohol in what i believe is the traditional method. It comes out somewhere in the 100-130 proof range as the 195 proof grain alcohol is watered down by the addition of simple syrup. All these drinks would turn out fundamentally different using strong limoncello, has anyone had any experience using the strong stuff for drinks? We typically only use it to sip or shoot, but using it for a drink sounds like a great idea. A good website for a modified version of what i do:


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