When life gives you lemon verbena, make Chartreuse



Or at least use some of your lemons for limoncello. There’s something about limoncello. It’s not exactly a subtle or complex taste. But—for many of us, anyway—everything about a bottle of limoncello radiates a hot day in Amalfi, where you’re surrounded by jasmine, wisteria, lemon trees, and stores that are open ten minutes a day.

It's easy to make. As you’ll see in this video, Amy already has, along with a lot of other homemade potions. Leslie/Growing a Garden in Davis has advanced to orangecello. And Elizabeth has bought a lemon tree, which she doubts will survive.


Here are the recipes

Amy likes Imbibe magazine’s recipes for Vin d'Orange:  (skip the vanilla bean) and limoncello.

And here’s the "Whatever's in Amy's Garden" version of a Chartreuse-like liqueur:

Lemon verbena

Angelica stems, chopped

Fennel stems, chopped

Pineapple sage

Lemon thyme

Rose-scented geranium


Lemon and orange zest

Wash, stuff in a mason jar, fill the jar with vodka.

Let it sit 2-3 days at MOST.  Open it, smell it, taste it, shake it regularly.  If you open it and it smells heavenly, it's DONE.  Time will not improve it!

Strain it and add simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, brought to a boil and allowed to cool) to taste.  A good starting point might be 3 parts infused vodka to one part simple syrup.  Tinker from there.  If it gets too sweet, you can add some straight vodka to proof it back up.

Elizabeth's sparkling wine is the Bailly Lapierre Crémant de Bourgogne Reserve. Fancy name, but it costs under $20 and is well worth searching out.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. I love the enthusasiam for experimentation, the education about not only the plants but what FUN we can have in playing with them! It’s like Martha Stewart without the perfectionism. (I adore M. S., but this speaks to me.) Thank you for another great Cocktail Hour!

  2. I’ll love to try this–I made a lemon verbena-infused vodka recently, but I was disappointed in the color. At least limoncello looks wonderful, but I have not been able to get the sweetness right yet.
    My vin d’orange (with the vanilla) is looking great. Some recipes include cinnamon, but I left that out, and unfortunately could not find Seville oranges yet, so I used navel and lemon.
    My quince brandy is going to be a fail I think–just too strange a flavor.
    Pomegranate gin is next.

  3. I’m a pathetic cook but pretty good behind ( and in front of ) the bar so I am going to give this a try this weekend in preparation for an upcoming holiday soiree.
    All the ingredients listed above are growing in my garden , especially the Angelica , which I have never known how to use in a culinary way.
    Angelica gigas right or sylvestris ?
    PS. If you can find a kiffir lime and it grows in your area , I highly suggest it. Amazing flavor to help the most tasteless dishes turn into something wonderful _ – I know from experience…
    just a fews zests from the skin of the fruit can excite the most bland tasting dish into something really tasty. Easy grower too.

  4. Michelle–the culinary angelica is A. archangelica or A. officinalis. Please do be careful, everybody, about putting random plants from the garden in your booze. You know…some plants can kill…

  5. I have some vodka steeping right now with lemon peels for (hopefully) some decent limoncello to ring in the new year. That way I can pretend that I’m on the Mediterranean coast instead of New England 🙂

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