Introducing National Kumquat Cocktail Fortnight

It’s time to give the humbly obscure kumquat its mixological due

The alcohol-industrial complex has concocted a bewildering number of horatory days, weeks, and months. There’s National Martini Day [June 19], National Bourbon Heritage Month [September],  and National Liqueur Day [October 16]. Inevitably, this gets weird. In an act of collaborative mercy, Harvey Wallbanger Day and National Shot Day both happen on November 8. Because there is no god, there is now a National Rhubarb Vodka Day. And so on.

Which provides me all the justification I need to take the following action:

I hereby declare, with the authority invested in me by absolutely nobody whatsoever, National Kumquat Cocktail Fortnight™. Hereafter it shall be observed annually from February 25 through March 11 (March 10 on leap years).

Kumquat Smash cocktail Craig Stoltz cocktail blog A Measured Spirit
Smash of the Titans: Reason enough to justify a National Kumquat Cocktail Fortnight(c). 

Kumquat season, you say?

Kumquats — small ovals of citrus the size of an olive, sweet of skin and sour of belly, believed to be native of China — have a limited season, from January through March. This makes a fixed celebration during this period actually defensible. [I’m not sure the creators of National Rhubarb Vodka Day can make the same claim.]

This compressed availability issue may explain why, against all reason, the kumquat has failed to become a stable behind craft cocktail bars everywhere. It should.

Kumquats are pretty little things, easy to muddle, and fairly versatile for an exotic.

The miniature orange orbs are sharp and punchy, a frisky variation on – and easy collaborator with – the more familiar citrus flavors we know too well.

They have a funny name that invites a lowbrow leer.

You can probably find them from January through March at Whole Foods and similar high-fallutin’ food barns.

Like the very best people I know, kumquats are sweet, tart, and just slightly bitter.

They are also the only citrus fruit whose skin you can eat. Which is to say: In drinks, kumquats function as an edible citrus garnish.    

Smash of the Titans

I became a kumquat konvert [I won’t do that again] at the estimable Clover Club in Brooklyn. In season, they serve a drink called Smash of the Titans. I was lucky enough to be served one last February.

The drink is a delightful domestic partnership between a Whiskey Smash and a Caipirinhia, with the sassy little love nuggets standing in for the lime quarters.

Smash of the Titans cocktail recipe

  • 2 oz bourbon
    • Something smooth. Clover Club uses Four Roses. When I’m livin’ large, I use Basil Hayden’s. When I’m just livin’, I use Bulleit.
  • .75 simple syrup
    • This seems like a lot in light of the .25 of lemon juice, but the kumquats add a lot of tartness to the glass.  
  • .25 lemon juice
  • 3 kumquats, halved
  • 2 sprigs of fresh oregano
    • Thyme is a worthy stand-in. Most kumquat drink recipes include an herb or spice. Huh. 

How to make a Smash of the Titans cocktail

  • In a mixing glass, muddle the kumquats with the simple and a couple stray leaves of oregano. Don’t poke at the oregano too hard.
  • Add lemon juice and bourbon.
  • Shake a bit, just to mix. No need to show off.
  • Dump it all out, unstrained, right into an Old Fashioned glass.
  • Garnish with two sprigs of oregano.
  • Marvel at the gorgeous glassful of orange debris studded with green tendrils.
  • Smell.
  • Drink.
  • Reflect.

Smash of the Titans tasting notes

  • It’s a very approachable and flavorful variation of the whiskey sour — crisp, balanced, and invigorating.
  • The sweet skin and sour pulp dance quite nicely.
  • The oregano provides a kind of earthy counterpoint to the sunny citrus notes.
  • Like a Caipirinha, it gets in your teeth. Revel in it.
  • The Smash of the Titans is a 55-degree late winter afternoon, eyeing the pleasures coming in the weeks ahead. Which is why National Kumquat Cocktail Fortnight® is perfectly situated on the calendar.

At any time while enjoying your beverage, pluck out a muddled kumquat shell and eat it. Sweet skin, sour belly. I’m reminded of the label on SweeTarts candy when I was a kid: “Bite ’em for a burst of flavor!”

Kumquats: The incredible edible garnish

If in public, eat the kumquat shells in your drink extravagantly, the better to call attention to your gastronomic audacity of eating a citrus garnish whole.

If anyone asks what you’re doing, meet their gaze, level your eyes, and forcefully say: “I am eating a kumquat. Would you like one of my kumquats?” You will have oregano in your teeth.

This should either silence things immediately or launch a lifelong friendship. I’m usually fine either way.

More Kumquat Cocktail Fortnight⊄ recipes

Frankly, the Smash of the Titans is such a great drink it’s sufficient to build an official National Fortnightº around. But here are three more recipes to get the kumquats rolling:

Kumquat Smash In this drink, attributed to Dimitris Kiakos of the Gin Joint in Athens, Greece, kumquats are joined by gin, lemon juice, maraschino, and a pinch of nutmeg.

Kumquat Champagne Cocktail Bon Appetit unloosed this one, which adds some Grand Marnier to the bubbly along with kumquats, onto the world in 2004.

Smashing Leaves This creation, a gentle tweak of the Smash of the Titans, is the creation of Feisser Stone of Hinoki & the Bird in Los Angeles.

Author: Craig Stoltz

Cocktail enthusiast with no professional standing, former Time.com Top 25 blogger, and ex-Washington Post editor. I live in Bethesda, Maryland.

2 thoughts on “Introducing National Kumquat Cocktail Fortnight”

  1. Craig,
    I’m not sure my comment posted. In case not, this is it:

    Craig, this is fucking brilliant. I never thought I’d read the words “Kumquat” and “fortnight” in the same sentence, let alone right next to each other. I really do want to “marvel at the gorgeous glassful of orange debris studded with green tendrils.”

    Jim Sollisch
    Marcus Thomas LLC
    partner / creative director – office : 216.292.4700 x3019

    From: A Measured Spirit <comment-reply@wordpress.com>
    Reply-To: A Measured Spirit <comment+eq0-bb7bomnu6rmjx65pnwgy@comment.wordpress.com>
    Date: Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at 5:43 PM
    To: MarcusThomasIT <jsollisch@marcusthomasllc.com>
    Subject: [New post] Introducing National Kumquat Cocktail Fortnight

    Craig Stoltz posted: “The alcohol-industrial complex has concocted a bewildering number of horatory days, weeks, and months. There’s National Martini Day [June 19], National Bourbon Heritage Month [September], and National Liqueur Day [October 16]. Inevitably, this gets weird”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you realize this makes you officially Far Too Kind, and that you are ready to fulfill the obligations associated with that. January is kumquat season. I will bring kumquats to our schvitz trip next year. All hell will break loose.

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