When Life Gives You Lemons

Head to Sud Italia for Homemade Limoncello

Everclear, lemon and time make every meal at the West University restaurant pack a punch.

By Beth Levine July 11, 2017

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In 120 days, this will be limoncello.

Image: Beth Levine

A few weeks ago, my best friend and I stopped by Rice Village favorite Sud Italia for our Friday night dinner. I love Friday night dinners. After a long week at the grind, few things are more relaxing than a great meal, great company and great drinks. This was my first time dining at Sud, and the converted house was the perfect setting in which to unwind. While the food was stellar, it was not the only thing that made me a newly minted Sud addict. At the end of every meal, hands-on owner Shanon Scott comes by each table to visit with his guests and give them a glass of what made me a Sud convert for life, his homemade, secret recipe limoncello.

While you might have sampled versions of this lemony after-dinner drink before, you have never tasted one quite like Scott's. On a trip to Italy four years ago, the restaurateur visited a little restaurant in Apulia and sampled what he says was quite simply the best limoncello he had ever had. After a little friendly persuasion, Scott was able to get the restaurant owner to share his family recipe, which had been handed down for generations and steeped in tradition. 

Though the exact proportions and order of the ingredients are top secret (word has it even local retailers have approached Scott to bottle and sell his delectable citrus concoction, but it's not for sale), he did share some of his process. Every bottle contains a handcrafted combination of Everclear, simple syrup and every possible part of a fresh lemon: zest, peel, juice, you name it. But it's the fermenting process that truly makes this digestif a standout. 

Shanon ages each bottle for roughly 120 days. Using first his home for two separate 40-day aging stretches, then the restaurant for yet another 30-40 days of the process, Scott takes very good care of these jars of citrus and alcohol, carefully transporting them back and forth, meticulously labeling every batch to ensure that by the time the liquid reaches your lips, it has been perfectly aged and a new batch is already on the horizon. Scott even recently planted a Meyer lemon tree in the garden behind Sud, so that in the future, everything but the Everclear will be locally sourced.

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