Math is hard

A couple decades ago, Mattel had the misguided vision to release a talking Barbie doll, one of whose onion-skin-witty quips has apocryphally been forever captured as "Math is hard. Let’s go shopping!" This Barbie and I, we’re, like, BFFs .

I decided to make another batch of Limoncello di Hillsborough, blessed as I was with another bag full of luscious yellow bounty from our friends’ house. This time, I followed my own advice, and made a few modifications to the original attempt: I used thicker slabs of lemon rind with just a little pith attached, to lend a slightly bitter edge, and I used Everclear instead of regular 80-proof vodka, for a much-needed boost in alcohol content to keep it from freezing.

I was going for a double batch this time, and set the peels to infuse in two 750-ml bottles’ worth of high-octane hootch for a couple weeks. After straining off the solids, I set to making my simple syrup. Referring back to my original recipe, I doubled the quantities of water and sugar, totalling 10 c. and 8 c. respectively. As I dumped them into a saucepan to dissolve, I thought, gee, that seems like an awful lot.

Looking back over the recipes I used as reference points for my own version, I realized that the proportion of 4 c. sugar to 5 c. water was meant for a double-batch, and that I had in fact halved that for my single bottle last time.


OK, no harm, no foul. I simply used half of what now turned into three liters of sticky-sweet stuff. Now I had three liters of limoncello and 1.5 liters simple syrup. Did someone say cocktails?

Yes, friends, I can think of worse problems to have than finding yourself with a surplus of simple syrup in the fridge. And so don’t be too terribly surprised to find the occasional cocktail recipe pop up on these pages over the summer.

Math is hard. Let’s have a drink.


Oh, and the limoncello? It’s, like, totally awesome.

  • Skipper and I will be, like, right over!

  • Hee — don’t get my mathematician husband on the subject of that damn Barbie!
    Sean, you are totally my alcohol guru. You have inspired me to start thinking about making limoncello AND infused vodka.
    I gotta get on both of those with a quickness.

  • Seriously, you need to put “Math is hard. Let’s have a drink.” on a t-shirt and sell it.

  • Sean, you are like, so totally my hero. Hey, let’s say you grab the limoncello, and I pick you up in my pink ‘n white Jeep, and we drive to the beach and whistle at cute boys! Hurray for summer!

  • Wooooo! Limoncello is the new Boone’s Farm! 🙂

  • what proof is your everclear? here in indiana, we have the real stuff, which i don’t believe you can legally purchase in cali.

  • It was 151 proof, which I think you are right is probably the highest proof you can get in California. Luckily, it is sufficiently high for this purpose. But next time we visit DPaul’s family in Kentucky, we may need to make a run over the river for some serious hooch!

  • Awesome – I actually have some lemon simple syrup (half lemon juice half sugar) in my fridge right now, and it’s good for cocktails too! (and iced tea!)

  • Limoncello! Mmmm one of my absolute favorites. Tucked away in my freezer is a bottle I got from Italy that I use to make ricotta pie. Came across your blog and liked it a lot. I’ll be back!