Capri and the Sorrento coast are the undisputed home of Limoncello, although arguments persist as to which side of the Bay of Naples created this famous drink. I’m quite proud of the fact that I was bringing bottles of this magic digestivo home in my suitcase long before it became famous in the USA. I was the American “in the know” about this drink.
Less famous, but also something I drank on Capri with wonderful friends, is Liquore Allora, a limoncello drink of sorts made with young bay laurel leaves instead of lemon. I planted a California Bay Laurel in my garden last year and so this drink has been on my to-do list. Unlike tart limoncello, Liquore Allora is a very herbaceous drink, a wonderful change of pace for a unique Southern Italian meal.
This recipe comes from Andrew Schwartz, who wrote the definitive compendium on Napolitano cooking, “Naples at Table”. You need to find a source for young bay laurel leaves, as this just won’t work with store bought fresh bay leaves.
Ingredients and Directions:
- About 32 young large, bay leaves (about ½ ounce) – young bay leaves are light green in color and soft compared to the older deep green and firm leaves you find fresh in the grocery store
- 2 cups grain alcohol (200 proof or 100% alcohol) *
- 3 cups water
- 3 cups granulated sugar
* This recipe will result in a beverage of 80 proof or 40% alcohol. Adjust the amount of dissolved sugar-in-water to adjust the proof to your liking.
- A large jar sealed with a rubber ring
- Flip-top bottles to store and freeze the drink
- Gently rinse and pat dry the bay leafs. Crinkle and place in the large jar and add the grain alcohol. Seal and store in a dark closet for 40 days. Shake occasionally. You know the infusion is ready when the bay leaves have turned crispy yellow (see photo).
- Dissolve the sugar into the water over medium heat. This is known as “simple syrup”. Let cool completely.
- Drain the infused alcohol through a mesh strainer and return the large jar. Discard the yellow and crispy bay leaves.
- Add the simple syrup to the infused alcohol in the large jar. Seal and let meld for a week.
- Distribute the liquor to serving bottles and place in the freezer.
- Serve after a meal in a clear shot glass.