Cocktail Friday: The Kozy Kumquat

by Tokyo Terrace on January 15, 2010

Have you ever eaten a kumquat? Have you ever seen one? Well, I remember the first time I tried one and it just happened to be in my in-law’s kitchen in Colorado. My father-in-law, Bob, is the resident grocery-shopper and seems to come home with various foods that cause him to brim with enthusiasm. And really, I totally identify with this side of him as I get overly enthusiastic about food all the time.

On this particular day, I distinctly remember my dear father-in-law saying, “Have you ever seen one of these?”

He held in his hand what looked like a miniature orange of some sort.

I timidly said, “No, I don’t think I have seen one of those. What is it?”

“It’s a kumquat! Just pop one in your mouth, go ahead…” he said anxiously.

“The whole thing? Just put it in my mouth and eat it?” I was definitely nervous. And unsure.

“Yes! Trust me!”

“Ok, ok!” I replied as I *popped* the curious orange sphere into my mouth.

I remember being surprised at how tender the skin was. Rather than being tough and bitter like the skin of an orange, I could easily bite right through it. A sweet flavor was released into my mouth and I was stunned. I loved it.

Until last week, I hadn’t eaten another kumquat. I hadn’t even seen another one of those bright orange treasures. Fortunately, they are in season right now and very present in many grocery stores around our Tokyo home. I didn’t think twice about grabbing a bag of these jewels the moment I spied them in the produce department.

Staring at a bowl full of kumquats sitting in my kitchen, I tried to decide what on earth to do with them. Yes, I could eat them all just the way they were and it would be a perfectly lovely way to savor these small citrus fruits. But I wanted to showcase them in some way. Then *bang* *boom* *thwap*! In true superhero style I was hit with the idea to make a cocktail. Yes. That was the answer.

I tried to stay true to the flavor of the kumquats in this drink. By muddling them with some rosemary-kumquat simple syrup, the sweetness found in the skin (which is more desirable than the almost non-existent flesh) is released. The simple syrup lends a gentle rosemary flavor that helps to bring a warmth to the citrus flavor in the kumquats. By using light brown sugar for the simple syrup and adding two kumquat halves, the flavor is slightly toasty, herby and citrusy (that’s a lot of -y words….sorry!) An added bonus is that adding the kumquat halves to the simple syrup candies them slightly. Once the seeds are removed, a slit is cut into the kumquat half and then the whole thing is rolled in sugar, a perfect garnish is born.

The toasty flavor of the brown sugar combined with the comforting rosemary lend a cozy softness to the kumquat cocktail. Hence the name “The Kozy Kumquat”!

Thanks to Bob for showing me the joy of the kumquat. Your crazy discovery was very useful! Kanpai!

The Kozy Kumquat
Makes 1 drink

4 kumquats, halved
3 teaspoons rosemary-kumquat simple syrup (recipe follows)
1 sprig of rosemary
1/2 kumquat, candied (see simple syrup recipe)
2.5 oz. gin
1.5 oz. dry vermouth

In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle the kumquat halves with the simple syrup and vermouth. Add the gin and ice. Shake until the shaker is so cold you can hardly stand it. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Add ice if desired or serve martini style. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a candied kumquat half.

Rosemary-Kumquat Simple Syrup
Makes 1/4 cup (about enough for 2 drinks)

2 T light brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 rosemary sprig, roughly chopped
2 kumquat halves

In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the brown sugar and the water. Stir until the sugar has just dissolved. Add the rosemary and kumquat halves. Simmer over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on the syrup so it does not over-cook. Stir occasionally to keep the syrup from burning. Remove from heat. (If you would like to strain the syrup, do so after the kumquats have been removed from the pan and do not wait until the syrup is cool.)

Remove the kumquat halves and immediately remove the seeds. Using a sharp paring knife, cut a small slit across the cut edge of the kumquat halves (this is so you can place it on the edge of your cocktail glass). Mound the extra brown sugar on top of the kumquat halves and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes.

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  • Divina

    I haven’t eaten kumquats in a long, long time. This is a sophisticated and unique cocktail. You’ll never find this anywhere except here. Beautiful photos.

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  • Carolyn Jung

    The addition of the rosemary is inspired. I love lemon with rosemary, so I’m sure kumquat with it is even more divine.

  • El

    I’ve never had one but you definitely made it more tempting to try. Lovely cocktail!

  • Curiouseats – Lissa

    This is a beautiful drink! Unfortunately in Ohio kumquats aren’t availabe. I love the idea of using the sugared kumquat on the edge of the glass for a garnish!

  • mylastbite

    Oh LORDY! This is the most beautiful one yet!!!!!

  • themintymusings

    Love it! Great pics!

  • Catastrophysicist

    Yes, fantastic pictures. Here’s to the kumquat!


    I love kumqats but ours are in France are smaller THe citrus flavour is very inspiring !
    Cheers from paris PIerre

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  • tokyoterrace

    Divina: Thank you for the compliments! This cocktail was certainly fun to make (and enjoy) this past Friday.

    Carolyn: I love adding rosemary or other aromatic herbs to my cocktails. Herbs have a way of bringing a gentle earthiness to something that has the danger of being overly sweet.

  • tokyoterrace

    Curiouseats: How sad! You can make this with oranges too, but it will have a slightly stronger flavor. If you wanted to, I would use the orange peel only rather than the flesh to tone down the flavor. When you muddle it, enough flavor should be released from the skin itself. Or, you can just squeeze a little juice into the cocktail.

  • tokyoterrace

    mylastbite & themintymusings: Thanks for the compliments! Glad you like it :)

  • tokyoterrace

    Catastrophysicist & Pierre: The kumquat is a fascinating citrus… I would be interested to try those found in France to see if the size impacts the flavor.

  • Talley

    I really like the sound of this one. great pictures again.
    What’s up with the Yuzucello?

  • wasabi prime

    OK, OK, this is definitely a sign — I need to pick up some kumquats, as this is the second post in a day featuring these funny little guys. I see them in stores but were never sure if they were sweet, sour or meant for more savory uses. They look beautiful in these drinks!

  • tokyoterrace

    Wasabi Prime: Um YES! Go get some kumquats asap! Let me know how you like them :)

  • tokyoterrace

    Talley: Glad you like it and thanks for asking about the Yuzucello. It’s on the schedule for (wait for it…) THIS COCKTAIL FRIDAY! You must be a mind reader or something… :)

  • Angie

    Very nice cocktail recipe. I love kumquats, they are very good! I love your new site design too, very pretty!

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