Gallery: Behind the Scenes: Making Limoncello at Hopeland in Brooklyn

Roy and his limoncello supplies
Roy and his limoncello supplies
Lemon peels soak in Everclear first for 30 days. Given the strength of Everclear (190-proof, yowzas) the concentration of alcohol acts as a powerful solvent to extract the lemon-ness—the citric oils, the yellow hues—from the lemon peels. It's far more effective than regular vodka, which isn't as strong and therefore can't strip out the same lemon-tensity of flavors and colors.
Lemon peels close-up
Lemon peels close-up
Roy stirs the peels each day over the 30-day soak to make sure the lemon oils and colors have been mixed thoroughly and evenly.
Getting ready to dump
Getting ready to dump
Roy is ready to dump the lemon-infused Everclear into the simple syrup mixture that's in the giant stock pot. "This is like the moment when the bride walks into the wedding. It only happens once. Are you guys ready for this?"
 Here we go!
Here we go!
Whooosh. Watch as the mixture swishes around and the colors change.
All strained
All strained
Crunchy peels
Crunchy peels
After that much time in Everclear, the peels turn all brittle and crunchy. Also, very pale since the Everclear strips off all the yellowness.
Limoncello yellows
Limoncello yellows
What starts as a deep golden yolky shade swirls into a cloudy yellow.
Stirring
Stirring
"Imagine stirring this on the Amalfi Coast with lemons hanging all around you." Roy reminisces about Salerno, his hometown on the southwestern coast of Italy near the beautiful Amalfi Coast. "The lemon trees, they're everywhere..."
Bottling
Bottling
This batch will yield 20 bottles of limoncello.
Recycling Everclear bottles
Recycling Everclear bottles
The finished product gets poured right back into an empty Everclear bottle. "We try to be as eco-friendly as possible."
Magnifico!
Magnifico!
Keep it dark
Keep it dark
Time for another batch to age! Over the 30 days, the vat of Everclear and peels must be shrouded in darkness to prevent the peels from oxidizing. Think about an apple browning after you bite into it, or guacamole that's been sitting out. To avoid the ugly color change, the peels must be kept in a dark setting.
Test Batch: Orangecello with Thyme
Test Batch: Orangecello with Thyme
Here's a sneak peek at what Roy's working on next: orange peels in Everclear (Orangecello) with a 7-hour infusion of thyme, giving it that greenish-orangish hue.