Although summer cocktails conjure herbal, fruity and floral flavors, winter cocktails need not despair for the lack of sun and fresh ingredients. The secret weapon of winter is the in-season citrus from the warmer regions of the country. A twist of tangerine, clementine, or Meyer lemon adds a crispness to drinks and a reminder of the warmer days just a few months ahead.Adding winter citrus to standard cocktails is simple, too. Using two basic recipes—a mulled wine and a fizz—I created drinks that come together quickly and let the citrus do the impressing. The blood oranges for the mulled wine and kumquats for the fizz are also fairly easy to track down his time of year.
Blood Orange Mulled Wine
Mulled wine is synonymous with winter, a drink that traverses the hubbub of the holidays through the deep freezes of a New England February. In this version of the wintry classic the blood orange’s sweet, concentrated flavor takes mulled wine into a new fruity direction. The combination of orange, bitters, and sweet vermouth gives the drink a sangria-like quality. Tradition says serve warm, but you can also try it at room temperature after the flavors have combined. There is no need to pull out a fancy bottle of red wine either. A cheaper bottle (hello, Two-Buck Chuck!) will work splendidly when melded with the other flavors.
Serves about 6
1 bottle of red wine
9 ounces of sweet vermouth
1 blood orange, cut in half. 1 half will be juiced and grated while the other will be sliced.
4 cinnamon sticks
a few dashes of bitters per glass
1. In a large pot heat the wine, sweet vermouth, juice of 1/2 blood orange plus zest, and cinnamon sticks over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes.
2. Ladle into mugs or glasses. Add a few dashes of bitters and 1 blood orange circle from the 2nd half into the glass as a garnish. Enjoy!
A gin fizz is a deceptively easy drink, so much so that you might not realize what a reward you will have after mixing one up. A standard gin fizz is gin, sugar, lemon, and sparkling water. For a kumquat version of the old standard the sugar is swapped out for simple syrup infused with sliced kumquats. Then more kumquats are muddled with the simple syrup before the gin and sparking water are added. The result is a bubbly, refreshing drink where the botanicals of the gin meet with the bitter-sweet of kumquats. For an interesting flavor try a cucumber-infused gin like Hendrick’s. And remember, kumquats flesh and rind are edible, so don’t miss the floating gin-soaked kumquats when the drink is almost done.
To make this cocktail even easier to whip up, keep the simple syrup in a sealed jar in the refrigerator. Then all you need is gin, a few kumquats, sparkling water, and ice to whip up a quick drink.
Makes 1 drink
For the syrup:
1 cup of white sugar
1 cup of water
5 kumquats, washed and sliced
For the drink:
a highball glass
3-4 kumquats, washed and sliced
1 ½ ounce of gin (a little more than a shot or one jigger full)
around 8 ounces of sparking water
3 or 4 ice cubes
- To make the syrup add sugar and water in small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar has disappeared. Immediately remove from heat, add in the sliced kumquats, and cover for 10-20 minutes to infuse the flavor. Strain the kumquats when ready and you have your kumquat-infused simple syrup.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the simple syrup to a highball glass or a tall drinking glass (even a mason jar). Muddle sliced kumquats with the simple syrup with a muddler or the end of a large wooden spoon or spatula. Add the gin, ice, and top with sparkling water. Mix once with a spoon. Top with more kumquat slices if you want.