Limoncello Martini

Meet the Limoncello Martini, a bright and sunshiny vodka cocktail that stars Italy’s famous lemon spirit. With vodka, simple syrup and lemon juice, this drink stands out as the ultimate elegant summer sipper.

A glass of lemonade with a lemon twist on the rim, half a lemon beside it, set against a white background.

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About this Limoncello Martini recipe

We all know the saying: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

I’d like to propose an update: When life gives you a bottle of limoncello, make limoncello cocktails.

Seriously though, if anyone ever gives you a bottle of limoncello, don’t just let it hang out in your freezer forever. Savor that Italian lemon liqueur with delicious limoncello drinks, like this limoncello martini.

It’s similar to the classic lemon drop martini, but with limoncello instead of orange liqueur. You’ll love it’s extra bright lemony tartness. It’s the perfect addition to any summer party.

More sweet martini recipes: Pomegranate Martini • Raspberry MartiniApple MartiniStrawberry Martini

A lemon cocktail in a glass with a gold rim, garnished with lemon zest on a minimalist skewer, next to a halved lemon and a cocktail shaker on a marble surface.

Why you’ll love this recipe

This cocktail has so much delicious lemon flavor. You’ll love this recipe, for a few reasons:

  • Lemon drinks are delicious for spring and summer.
  • With just four ingredients, it’s easy to put together.
  • It’s a great drink for anyone who loves lemon cocktails.
  • You can easily make these for a party.
Lemon peels steeping in a jar with vodka.

What is limoncello?

Limoncello is a sweet and sour lemon liqueur from Italy that is typically enjoyed after a meal as a digestif. After Campari, it is the second-most popular liqueur in Italy.

Limoncello hails from Southern Italy, especially Sorrento, Capri and the Amalfi Coast. It is made by infusing tart lemon peels with with a grain spirit like vodka.

Traditional limoncello is made with Femminello St. Teresa lemons, a varietal of lemons that’s native to the Sorrento Peninsula of Italy. They are also known as Amalfi, Sorrento or Sfusato lemons.

A glass of lemonade with a lemon peel garnish, beside a jigger and cocktail stirrer, on a white surface with a subtle marble pattern.

Tools & glassware

To make a limoncello martini, a basic bar tool set with a jigger, cocktail shaker and a strainer is helpful to have.

To serve, a v-shaped martini glass is great, or you can use a more rounded coupe glass. Both are elegant stemmed glassware that make this cocktail shine.

Finally, a cocktail pick makes it easy to garnish this drink with a lemon twist or slice of lemon.

a bottle of limoncello surrounded by lemons.

Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe:

  • Limoncello: This is a lemon liqueur from Italy. Buy it or make it yourself.
  • Vodka: A bottle of quality vodka is a must for any bar. Right now, I’m enjoying Tito’s and New Amsterdam. You can also sub gin for a more herbal flavor.
  • Lemon juice: Fresh lemon juice is ideal, but the bottled concentrate can work in a pinch.
  • Simple syrup: This is easy to make with equal parts sugar and water. You can also have fun with flavors: basil, rosemary or mint syrup would be delicious with limoncello.
A person's hand placing a lemon twist on the rim of an elegant cocktail glass with a gold rim, containing a lemon-based drink.

Garnish ideas

A garnish always helps to elevate a cocktail, and limoncello martini can be garnished in quite a few ways. It makes an elegant drink even more sophisticated. Here are a few ideas:

  • A classic lemon twist is what I used in these photos. They are easy to make with a thin piece of lemon peel (made with a knife or vegetable peeler) twisted around your finger or a straw.
  • Fresh lemon is always welcome. Add a lemon slice or a lemon wedge to the rim of the glass.
  • Garnish the glass with a lemon sugar rim. This would make it more like a lemon drop martini, but who cares? Zesty sugar is always welcome.
  • A thin dehydrated lemon slice floating on top would also be so elegant. They are easy to make yourself in the oven and they last up to a year, so you can always have a lemon garnish ready to go.
  • Perch a candied lemon slice on the rim of the glass or pierce it with a cocktail pick.

Variations and substitutions

Try one of these variations on this recipe:

  • Orangecello martini: Use limoncello’s sister made with orange peels and orange juice for a fun twist on this drink.
  • Rosemary limoncello martini: Use an herbal syrup like rosemary syrup to add some herbal flavor to this cocktail. You can also use an herbal gin instead of vodka.
  • Limoncello martini mocktail: Part of the beauty of this drink is it relies on boozy limoncello. However, I found this recipe for non-alcoholic limoncello that might be worth trying. For the vodka in this recipe, use a zero-proof spirit like Seedlip Garden 108.

No limoncello? You can try this drink with lemon vodka instead.

Instructions

Ready to make your own limoncello martini? Here’s what to do! You’ll love how easy it is.

A person pours water into a glass containing lemon juice on a white surface, with half a lemon and a spoon nearby.
Pouring a golden liquid into a textured glass with half a lemon and a golden spoon to the side, on a marble surface.

Combine limoncello, vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

Shake well. This invigorates the ingredients and chills the cocktail.

A person pouring a lemon cocktail from a gold shaker into a clear glass on a white surface, with half a lemon and a cocktail pin nearby.

Strain the mixture into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Since the liquid ingredients are all equal parts, you can whip up one of these anytime. Multiply them to 1 cup of each to make a pitcher of 8 drinks.

A close-up of a lemon cocktail in a glass with a gold rim, garnished with a lemon twist.

Tips & tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for making this recipe:

  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice will provide the most vibrant citrus flavor. Avoid using bottled lemon juice for optimal results.
  • Taste the mixture before straining to ensure it has the right balance of sweetness and tartness for you. You can adjust the amount of simple syrup according to your preference.
  • Garnish with a lemon twist to make the drink really shine.
A glass of lemonade with a gold rim, accompanied by a lemon twist and a whole lemon, on a white surface.

Food pairings

The Limoncello Spritz is a great drink to serve at parties.

Enjoy them with a fruity appetizer like a charcuterie board or baked brie.

You can also have them with dessert, like lemon bars, raspberry lemon parfaits or easy mini lemon tarts.

Something Italian like mini lemon cheesecakes or lemon drop cookies would be delicious too.

When to serve them

A Limoncello Martini is perfect for so many occasions! Try them for…

  • Italian dinners
  • Happy hour
  • Pool parties
  • Girl’s night
  • Bachelorette parties
  • Wedding showers
  • Baby showers
  • Game night
A glass of lemonade with a lemon peel garnish, accompanied by a half lemon and a metal cocktail shaker on a white background.

FAQ

What type of alcohol is limoncello?

Limoncello is a liqueur made with lemon zest. It is made by infusing high-proof grain alcohol, such as vodka, with lemon peels from a few days to a few months. It is then sweetened and bottled for drinking. It is known as a digestif, which is typically enjoyed after dinner to help the stomach digest the meal.

More limoncello cocktails

Use up the rest of your Italian liqueur in one of these limoncello cocktail recipes.

— Did you make this recipe? —

Please leave a ★★★★★ review or comment below.

A glass of lemonade with a lemon peel garnish, beside a jigger and cocktail stirrer, on a white surface with a subtle marble pattern.

Limoncello Martini

Yield: 1 drink
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Brighten any occasion with a sunshiny Limoncello Martini, a bright lemon cocktail made with Italian lemon liqueur, vodka, simple syrup and fresh lemon juice.
5 from 1 vote
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ingredients

  • 1 ounce limoncello
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 lemon twist for garnish

instructions

  • Combine limoncello, vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well.
  • Strain the mixture into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

notes

Sweetness level: If your limoncello is very sweet, consider adjusting the amount of simple syrup. Add ½ ounce first, shake, then taste it. If it still needs more, you can add another ¼ or ½ ounce. You may also use a simple syrup substitute such as sugar-free syrup. 
Garnish ideas: lemon twist, lemon slice, lemon wedge, dehydrated lemon slice, candied lemon slice, lemon sugar rim 
Variations:
  • Use a flavored simple syrup (like rosemary or basil) to add some herbal flavor to this cocktail. You can also use an herbal gin instead of vodka.
  • Make an orangecello martini. Use orange juice and limoncello’s sister that’s made with orange peels for a fun twist on this drink.

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nutrition information

Yield: 1 drink

amount per serving:

Serving: 4ounces Calories: 251kcal Carbohydrates: 34g Protein: 0.1g Fat: 0.1g Saturated Fat: 0.01g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g Sodium: 17mg Potassium: 47mg Fiber: 0.1g Sugar: 32g Vitamin A: 2IU Vitamin C: 11mg Calcium: 5mg Iron: 1mg
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