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Elements: Kumquats

kumquats-istockAs we enter kumquat season, it’s time to think creatively about how to best use one of winter’s most complex citrus fruits.

Hinoki and the Bird bartender Feisser Stone likens the flavor of kumquats to Sour Patch candies. “They have a bitter taste that shocks the tastebuds, but then it bursts into a sweet flavor on the palate,” he says. “This makes it a great way to offer depth to cocktails and make the flavors of your drink really pop.”

Stone uses kumquats in Hinoki’s Smashing Leaves cocktail, a play on a classic Whiskey Sour. “Kumquats take the drink to the next level, adding a sweet and fresh citrus note. It offers that familiarity, but with a surprising twist.”

The quintessential bitterness of kumquats also works well with bittersweet Campari. Try a kumquat purée mixed with tarragon syrup, Campari, lemon and soda in this WC and Soda recipe from Boulder, Colorado’s Oak at Fourteenth.

Meanwhile, at The Pastry War in Houston, the barkeeps make a kumquat marmalade for the Tuba Player cocktail—a tall, refreshing drink created as a nod to traditional Mexican “Tuba,” a roadside drink made from freshly fermented coconut sap. Kumquats add a bright, sweet acidity to dry gin and earthy coconut water.

Tuba Player 
2 oz. London Dry Gin
3 oz. coconut water
1 oz. kumquat marmalade
Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: Collins
Garnish: kumquat and makrut lime leaf (optional)

Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice, and pour into a Collins glass. Garnish.

Kumquat Marmalade
1 cup thinly-sliced kumquats (seeded)
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup water

Heat all ingredients in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved and it starts to simmer. Reduce the heat and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The marmalade can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 month, or it can be canned and sealed and will be shelf stable.

Kehlen Selph, The Pastry War, Houston

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