Limoncello. It's easy to make, right? Not if you are pith perfectionists, as James Carling and Manuela Zaretti-Carling, the husband-wife duo behind Ventura Limoncello happen to be. Add mother-in-law (mom to Rossana, photo next page) to the mix, and this is no pith party. It was a year-plus in the making, with a few strawberry experiments gone awry along the way, but Ventura Limoncello has released a new citrus liqueur flavor. This one is made from locally-sourced blood oranges. The name? Orangecello.

Before you groan about the obvious play on words, this stuff is good. Really good. That it is made by a local family and comes with a great back story chaser — genuine, too, nothing that started in a publicist's office — made us savor those sips (sorry) even more. Turn the page for more.

Grandma Rossana Zaretti At Work; Credit: Jgarbee

Grandma Rossana Zaretti At Work; Credit: Jgarbee

James Carling began tinkering around with new recipe flavors last year. “Our goal is to eventually use all the fruit varieties in Ventura in liqueurs,” he told us during the tinkering phase (adding that yeah, he is drawing the line at avocados). But even fruits with seemingly good liqueur potential, like strawberries, haven't all worked out. “It tasted like cough syrup,” he says of those first strawberry days.

Not so with the blood orange, the family's first non-lemon release since the company launched about two years ago. The oranges are sourced from Petty Ranch and Old Gold Farms in Ventura County. Yeah, small growers. Don't get Carling started on all those corporate citrus growers in town.

The taste of the new Orangecello? The first sip is pure orange, then slightly bitter — a good thing — then that distinct blood orange aftermath. We'd say “finish” but we'd prefer to add that word (isn't “finish” floor polish?) to the Top 10 Foodie Words We Hate. And so, we'll just call it good. Very good.

Ventura Limoncello Orangecello: Launches today via the distributor, which in retail lingo means it will be appearing at the first dozen or so local specialty wine and spirits shops in the coming week or two, with more locations coming soon (375 ml for about $17). We've heard rumors that Cecconi's in West Hollywood and Nic's Martini Lounge in Beverly Hills will (hopefully) be among the first restaurants serving glasses of the Orangecello. The limoncello is more widely available at retail markets , and you can try a sip at more than a few local restaurants.

LA Weekly