Photo of a beverage mixer to accompany Cocktail story. (Glenn Koenig, Los Angeles…)
Tiny, tangy kumquats are in season, and those little mouthfuls of citrus delight are good for more than snacking. They are also good for drinking. At least at Hatfield's, where beverage director Peter Birmingham serves a clever twist on the traditional mojito using candied kumquats and house-made kumquat simple syrup. Light rum, sweet pineapple juice and kumquats mingle with fresh mint and a touch of soda water to conjure incredibly refreshing results.
Candied Kumquat Mojito by Peter Birmingham
.25 ounce kumquat simple syrup*
.5 ounce pineapple juice
6 fresh mint leaves
Splash simple syrup**
I ounce fresh sweet 'n sour mix***
2 ounces Bacardi white rum
Splash soda water
In a double old-fashioned glass muddle 4 "coins" (wheels) of lime with kumquat simple syrup, pineapple juice, six fresh mint leaves and a splash of simple syrup. Add ice. Put sweet & sour mix and rum in a shaker, add the ice and muddled mixture and shake well. Pour into a double old-fashioned glass, garnish with a fresh lime coin and four to five candied kumquats. Add a splash of soda water and serve.
*Candied kumquat and syrup: blanche kumquats in water, drain, add enough light simple syrup to cover. Remove the outer hull and leaves of lemongrass, flavor the syrup by bruising the heart of lemongrass with the back of heavy knife, add one teaspoon — or just enough orange blossom water — to scent the simple syrup. Macerate a minimum of 12 hours. Holds refrigerated for three weeks.
**Light simple syrup: add one pound white sugar to 32 ounces boiling water, stir to mix, cool.
***Fresh sweet 'n sour: Microplane the zest of 45 limes and 15 lemons (no white pith) and sprinkle with 4 ounces (by weight) of ultra fine sugar to coat zest. Let macerate for one hour. Juice the lemons and limes. You should have about 11/2 quarts of juice. Add the sugared zest to the combined juice. Let sit for at least six hours (better for 12 hours) in the refrigerator. Strain the juice from the zest. Discard the zest. You may need to add more sugar and adjust the acidity with water. Add only one ounce at a time, then mix and taste. The final product should be on the sweet side of tart.