SALEM, N.H. — First, when life handed them lemons, the Mastroianni brothers made limoncello.
Now, they’re peeling more fruit and making Fabrizia Blood Orange Liqueur.
Their new product is on the shelves in 25 of New Hampshire’s biggest liquor stores and in five other states, co-owner Philip Mastroianni said last week.
Hopes are high they will realize the same success they have seen with their limoncello.
Just four years ago, the brothers were advertising for peelers on Craigslist for one-day lemon peeling jobs.
Now, they have two fulltime employees, a gold medal from the 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and a following that’s growing across the country.
Their story has humble beginnings.
On a trip to visit relatives in Calabria, Italy, about five years ago, Philip Mastroianni was taken with a cousin’s limoncello, brewed from lemons grown on their property.
He brought a taste for the popular Italian drink — and the recipe — home. At first, he brewed up small batches for fun and personal pleasure.
But when he brought a bottle to a family gathering, he said, his Uncle Joe told him he should get into serious production.
They took the plunge, but maintained their day jobs, something Philip Mastroianni still does, but with most hours devoted to the fledgling liqueur business.
It’s labor intensive. The fruit — the lemons and now the blood oranges — must be peeled by hand, then the rinds are steeped in grain alcohol. They make batches of 800 bottles at a time, everything still done by hand.
Lemons are a lot easier to peel than blood oranges, he said, which have a thinner skin and the fruit is trickier to hold while peeling. It takes about twice as long to peel a blood orange as it does a lemon, according to Mastroianni.