A long time ago, I lamented the fact that there weren’t many cocktails that called for limoncello as an ingredient. After a few rounds of experimentation I moved on to other things, but still, from time to time, I’d glance at the bottle of limoncello in my freezer and wish I could do something with it beyond simply enjoying the occasional chilled shot.

Call this wish fulfillment. I first tried this drink last week, at a newish Seattle lounge called Licorous (and which actually isn’t all that new, but since it took me several months to actually drag myself over there, it was new to me). Licorous’ cocktails have generated a lot of local attention, partially because of its pairings menu: an $8.50 drink is transformed into a $10.50 experience when a small, pre-selected appetizer is served alongside. Considering that the lounge is adjacent to and closely related to Lark, Jonathan Sundstrom’s acclaimed small-plate restaurant, the paired tidbits are blow-me-away ventures of the fois-gras-bon-bon and Armandino-Batali’s-oregano-salumi persuasion, and the bar similarly sets its mark high.

The Renaissance is a Robert Hess original, and is one of the best uses of limoncello in a cocktail since … well, maybe ever, at least in my experience. The brandy and the vermouth give it a nice, lush base, and the touch of limoncello spiked with bitters lend a mildly sweet, fruity perfume.

While Licorous prepares the cocktail using one of its house-made bitters, Robert says the drink was crafted with Fee’s Peach Bitters in mind. Having tried it both ways, I’ve found I prefer the brightness of the peach / lemon interplay, but if you haven’t got peach bitters on hand, I’d suggest taking a crack at this with a couple of dashes of orange bitters. It’ll be a slightly different drink, but still mighty tasty.


  • 2 oz. brandy
  • 1 1/3 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1/3 oz. limoncello
  • 2 dashes Fee’s Peach Bitters (or try orange bitters, if you don’t have peach)

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

6 Responses to Renaissance

  1. I know this isn’t very helpful, since I don’t remember either the restaurant nor all the ingredients. But at some Italian restaurant near the Seattle waterfront (at the waterfront level, not higher up), I had a tasty cocktail with vodka, campari, limoncello, and … one other ingredient I can’t remember (maybe Cointreau?). The campari did a nice job of offsetting the sweetness of the limoncello (and fourth ingredient?).

  2. When I try new cocktails, I’m always hoping for that “Wow, this is truly a new flavor combination that I cannot easily compare to others.”

    The Renaissance, despite having a very cool name, succeeds amazingly in delivering on my hopes.

    Paul, it’s definitely worth it to pick up some peach bitters for this drink. I have yet to try it with the orange, but I can’t imagine it being better (I’ll report here later when I try it).

    Thanks for another new, great cocktail. I don’t really get to explore good establishments in my college-centered bar town.

  3. Orange Bitters:

    Surprisingly better than I thought. Still, you lose some of the sweetness and roundness that the peach bitters bring to the table.

    I think the aftertaste is what suffers most. Definitely stick with the peach bitters.

  4. As Paul says, I originally created this drink to use Fee’s Peach Bitters (which many of us might argue aren’t truely a ‘bitters’). It was part of a “trio” of cocktails that I created specifically with peach bitters in mind, the others are the “Trident” (which is quite popular at the Zig Zag Cafe in downton Seattle), and the “Gotham”. The Trident is a variation of a Negroni, and the Gotham is a variation of the Sazerac.

  5. Alright I tweeked this out again. Here is my drink:

    1oz Gin
    1oz Mirabelle Plum Brandy
    1 1/3 Carpano Antica
    1/3 Lemoncello
    2 dashes of Peach Bitters
    Garnished with Cherry

    A great Starter cocktail light and not too sweet and very aromatic. If anyone else makes this let me know what you think.

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