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The Kumquat Revolution

January 24, 2008

Pity the poor kumquat. The fruit may get little respect these days, but it has been popular since the 12th century, when Chinese emperors and their concubines snacked on them. If any were alive today, surely they would make a beeline to downtown's Blue Velvet, where mixologist Matthew Lathan would be happy to serve them one of his new signature cocktails, including the Kumquat Marmalade Martini. Lathan (with the quirky brew, below) lists the ingredients: honey, champagne vinegar, freshly squeezed orange juice, kumquats, vanilla bean, cinnamon, Absolut Mandarin and Cointreau. "We cook the kumquats in a honey sauce," Lathan says. But the drink's real secret is in its layers. "I add just a touch of Cointreau, then add the mandarin vodka and a little bit of the actual kumquat syrup . . . that layers it so that it's orange at the bottom, but clear at the top." $14. Blue Velvet. 750 Garland Ave., L.A. (213) 239-0061

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