When it comes to citrus in cocktails, the usual suspects are limes, lemons, grapefruits and, to a slightly lesser extent, oranges. But the wide and wild world of the sweet-tart tree fruits includes plenty of others, including the diminutive, thin-skinned kumquat. They’re not the most likely candidate for cocktails, considering they’re nearly impossible to squeeze, giving up little of their tart juices. But bartender Dimitris Kiakos of the now-closed but legendary Gin Joint in Athens, Greece, puts them to good use in his Kumquat Squash.
The Kumquat Smash starts by muddling the small yet flavor-rich citrus fruit, which releases as much of their juice as possible while also macerating the edible skins, where the fruit gets much of its sweetness. This bright, floral juice provides a fresh and unique base for the drink.
The cocktail itself is made with Old Tom gin—this historic gin style was lost for decades until Oregon distiller Tad Seestedt and cocktail historian David Wondrich collaborated on revivifying it with Ransom Old Tom gin. Old Tom is sweeter and (usually) darker than a London dry gin thanks to fact that it’s normally aged in barrels, and often made with malted grains. Some Old Tom gin is almost like a botanical whiskey. However, in the Kumquat Squash, Kiakos uses Hayman’s Old Tom gin, one of the rare versions of the style that is unaged. This means the drink will be bright and fresh—using something like Ransom or another aged Old Tom will bring more color and richness, but that can clash with the kumquats.
To heighten the tart juiciness the smash also gets a measure of lemon juice, while maraschino liqueur amplifies the fruity sweet notes. The result is a bright and complex cocktail that can be enjoyed year-round, especially in early spring, when the kumquats are most in-season.
- 3 kumquats, halved
- 2 ounces Hayman’s Old Tom gin
- 1/3 ounce Luxardo maraschino liqueur
- 2/3 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- Garnish: kumquats
In a shaker, muddle the halved kumquats.
Add the Hayman’s Old Tom gin, lemon juice, and marschino liqueur into the shaker, fill with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Double-strain into an Old Fashioned glass over fresh ice.
Garnish with 2 kumquat halves.