An easy peasy lemon squeezy vodka martini with homemade limoncello, inspired by the palatial Hotel Danieli on the Venetian lagoon
Where better to sip cocktails in Venice than Bar Dandolo in the remarkable Hotel Danieli? Built in the 14th Century by the noble Dandolo family, the Palazzo Dandolo was converted into a hotel fit for a king in the 19th Century and remains open today.
Not only is it one of the most decadent places to enjoy a drink in Venice, Dandolo is widely recognised as one of best bars in Italy. In fact, it has been named by Gambero Rosso’s Bar d’Italia as one of the top 20 bars in the country every year for the past 16 years.
However, it is the hotel and its restaurant that is really the main attraction in my opinion. While staying at Hotel Venissa, a wine resort on the island of Mazzorbo, we put on our glad rags and set sail across the lagoon for dinner at the Terrazza Danieli.
Perched on top of the hotel, the restaurant and rooftop terrace provides uninterrupted views of the San Giorgio Maggiore church and the Salute across the water. It’s an absurdly romantic place to watch the sun go down while sharing an exquisite Italian feast.
A taste of Belvedere in Sorrento… in Venice!
Sat on the ground floor, Bar Dandolo provides a safe sanctuary away from the hordes of tourists outside. After a long day exploring Venice, there aren’t many better things to do than enjoy an expertly-mixed cocktail while a pianist tinkles the ivories.
On a recent visit, I tried the Belvedere in Sorrento. With a hefty splash of limoncello and Belvedere vodka, it’s like a martini with a twist, but on steroids. It has all the lemony sweetness of limoncello, but with the reassuring kick of an ice-cold vodka martini. For me, it’s a perfect after-dinner drink, especially if dinner consisted of four courses of fresh pasta and seafood.
With only two ingredients – limoncello and vodka – it’s probably my simplest recipe ever. However, if you follow my Instagram (and you definitely should!), you’ll know that I’ve been making my own limoncello at home. It turns out it’s ridiculously easy to make. All you need is lemons, vodka, caster sugar and a big fat dollop of patience; it takes about three weeks to make! If you can’t wait that long for a cocktail, store-bought limoncello works just as well. Give it a try and let me know how you get on.
A simple recipe for a homemade limoncello martini, inspired by Bar Dandolo in Venice, Italy.
- 5 unwaxed lemons
- 1 litre vodka
- 500 g caster sugar
- 1 litre boiling water
- 1 part vodka
- 1 part limoncello
- 1 lemon
Peel the unwaxed lemons carefully. Try to avoid getting too much of the white pith or your limoncello will taste bitter. It's important to buy unwaxed lemons, as nobody wants wax in their drink.
Place the lemon peel and vodka into a large, sealable jar and mix. Shake the jar every day for three weeks, until the liquid takes on a bright yellow tint.
Boil the water and sugar in a large pan, until half of the liquid evaporates. Wait until the liquid cools to room temperature.
Pour the vodka and lemon mixture through a sieve into a large container. Throw away the lemon peel, before mixing in the sugary liquid.
Pour into bottles and place in the fridge or freezer, depending on how cold you like your limoncello. If you do place it in the freezer, make sure the bottle isn't too full or you may end up with a sticky yellow mess and nobody wants that.
Pour one part vodka and one part limoncello into a cocktail shaker, with ice. If you fancy a stronger lemony taste, add a little more limoncello, or if you just want a stronger drink, add more vodka. Personally, I think half and half is best.
Shake it 'til you make it! Give the cocktail a good shake for about 30 seconds. Pour into a cocktail glass with a fresh slice of lemon peel and enjoy!