You won't be able to drink this with your New Year's toast tonight or tomorrow but if you start it soon it should be ready to give to your favorite person by the time Valentine's Day rolls around.
Limoncello is a yellowish liquor made out of lemon peel soaking in water and pure alcohol, particularly famous in Southern Italy and Sicily. Since pure alcohol can't be purchased in the US you can use 100-proof vodka - the high alcohol level will ensure that the limoncello will not turn to ice in the freezer.
Choose thick-skinned lemons because they are easier to zest. This is the same recipe I use.
Makes 6 cups (1.5 L)
1 bottle (750 mL) 100-proof vodka (Smirnoff makes one)
2 cups (500 mL) sugar
2 cups (500 mL) water
Scrub lemons well with a vegetable brush and hot water to remove any residue of pesticides or carnauba wax. Pat the lemons dry.
Carefully zest the lemons so there is no white pith on the peel. (The pith, the white part underneath the rind, is bitter and could ruin your limoncello.)
Pour half a bottle of vodka into a large, two-litre glass container, reserving the other half for later. Add the lemon zest. Cover the jar and let sit at room temperature for two weeks in a cool dark place. It can sit longer - the longer it rests, the better it tastes.
On Day 15, combine sugar and water in a large pan. Cook about five minutes. Let the syrup cool before adding it to the limoncello mixture. Add the remaining vodka. Give it a good swirl and leave it alone for another two weeks. Finally, strain the liqueur, discarding the lemon zest. Bottle and store in the freezer until ready to serve. It's good with soda or tonic, or just sipped by itself