Infused Vodka Recipes: The Kumquat Summer Tease

by Pamela

infused vodka recipe, infused vodka, kumquat recipes, what to do with cucumbers, nastoyka, cucumber jam
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I’m giving you notice up front: this post is going to seem a bit stranger than usual.  You see, having been away for a couple of weeks has caused me to be influenced by so many things that my head feels like it’s going to explode.  Today’s recipe, which at first glance doesn’t seem to be all that different (Friday drink post-check, infused vodka recipe-check, relationship advice-check) has so many moving parts that don’t seem to be intertwined, that it’s not until the very end when will you see it all come together.  So stick with me here.

I already told you that I went to Paris on my recent getaway.  But that wasn’t the only place…my trip started in London.  I was finally able to meet my fellow Nudie Foodie Jackie.  Jackie writes a great blog called I am a Feeder and we met up and had dinner at Inamo Japanese fusion restaurant.  We even let Craig come along.  He earned his spot by taking us for some amazing gelato, at Scoop, afterwards (that boy can sniff out an ice cream parlor from 5 miles away).

London is part 1 of this mixed up tale.  After dinner and gelato, Craig and I found our way to the Experimental Cocktail Club.  You’d walk right past the place if you weren’t looking for it.  And even if you’re looking for it you might not find it.  The only sign that the ECC is at the address is a dingy black door.  Thankfully for us, there was also a non-descript doorman who I forced Craig to ask if he knew where the place was.  Let this be a lesson to you guys…would you ever just f*!@king one time ask for f*!@king direction?  If it weren’t for me, demanding a drink, we never would have found the place.

ECC is a small bar that serves amazing hand made drinks that are mixtures of things you probably never even imagined.  Like gin and cucumber jam (which I will get to in a minute), Cuban tobacco infused bourbon, mezcal and beetroot, and Calvados infused with liquorice root.  All of these things are mixed into cocktails that will have you licking your lips and asking for more if not a little loopy for all of you imbibing taste testing.

When I arrived back home in LA, I found that my mom had picked up a Sunday copy of the LA Times (This would be part 2 for those of you keeping track).  Love my mom to death, but she’s just never going to get the hang of getting her news and information online.  Of course if she had done that, I never would have come across the article about Nastoyka.  Nastoyka is a traditional Russian liquor that is basically an infused vodka recipe.  Sometimes they throw a little cognac into the infusion, but the infusions are of fruits and herbs that are native to Russia (so you’re not going to find any of that bubble gum flavored swill in the mix).  The other key to this infused vodka recipe is the fact that there is an abundance of fruit to spirits.  By doing this, the flavors develop quickly and the infusion process is very short, sometimes as short as 24 hours.

Well you know how much I love my infused vodka recipes, so I just had to make the Kumquat Nastoyka from the article (well, in my own way of course).  I didn’t realize that kumquats were a Russian fruit.  But since I love those cute little citrus bombs and there aren’t many kumquat recipes out there beyond caramelizing them or turning them into marmalade, I thought I’d throw a new-ish little recipe into the kumquat’s repertoire.

Kumquat-Infused-Vodka-Recipe

Back to the cucumber jam.

In case you’re wondering what to do with cucumbers this summer when they start to take over your kitchen, this is the perfect solution.  It turns out that the cucumber doesn’t have too many recipes up its sleeves either (kumquats and cucumbers ought to get together and do something about this-like a throwdown: kumquat recipes vs cucumber recipes).  Sure, cucumbers are all cute and dainty in cucumber sandwiches and they pack a mighty punch when you pickle them, but have you ever considered turning them into cucumber jam?  I sure didn’t until I saw it on the ECC menu.

So I hit the trusty internet to search for cucumber jam recipes.  I found 2.  Fortunately, I found that Tea and Wheaten Bread had a recipe for cucumber jam that looked and sounded amazing, and perfect for my cocktail creation.  I really didn’t change her recipe, from an ingredient standpoint.  I did however purée the ingredients because I was going to be stirring it into a cocktail and didn’t think people (I) would appreciate slurping up big chunks of cucumber or gnawing on fibrous pieces of ginger.

I love this cocktail because it’s a pretty color for summer, it’s fruity tasting and it’s got quite a few flavors in it that give it some interest when you’re drinking it.  You can’t quite put your finger on what some of them are when you taste it.  I do like a little mystery in things.

Please don’t be put off by the fact that there are 3 recipes here.  The first is the infused vodka recipe – which is painfully simple.  The second is for the cucumber jam – which is also easy, and makes about a cup (which can be used for other things – like on a cheese plate or stirred into a chilled melon soup).  The third recipe is for the drink itself.

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19 comments

debdeb May 12, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Thank you Pamela!! So SWEET of you to help me :-) I’m very curious about adding flower essences to the finished product. Rose keeps coming to me in my taste memory but I don’t know till I try :-) I will let you know how your recipes and my experiments turn out ! Thanks again, Deb

Pamela May 12, 2014 at 5:07 pm

You’re very welcome Deb. :) Go easy on the rosewater if you go that route and try it in a very small batch as a test. Ginger goes really well with kumquats and rum is a fantastic companion to the bitter tang of the fruit too. Maybe a rum infusion? ;) You’re family is going to LOVE you!!!!! Let me know what you do and how it turns out. I’m excited to hear. (I no longer live in kumquat country…so it’s going to be hard for me to get my hands on them this year.)

debdeb May 12, 2014 at 11:46 am

My family has given me the task to create a vodka infusion and other treats with my parent’s huge Kumquat tree (its a huge, 40 + year tree!) . Your recipe looks wonderful and easy but I have a few questions: 1) I live in a apartment, with no cool basement- can I put the infusion in the refrigerator ? 2) If I have a couple of pounds of Kumquat, can I still put it in a huge mason jar (I’m worried about gas expansion blowing the jar up 3) Have you tried adding sugar? (like a limoncello recipe) Adding a little lemon or other citrus to add more “zest”? (sorry, pun intended)lol Your help is appreciated. Also, any other Kumquat recipes apart from marmalade is appreciated. That gelato sounds wonderful!!!

Pamela May 12, 2014 at 11:59 am

Hi Deb…lucky you! :)

I’ll answer your questions in the order you asked them to keep things easy to follow.
1. You could put the infusion in the fridge, but it will take longer to infuse. If your apartment isn’t really hot (like over 85 degrees) you can leave the infusion out of the fridge.
2. There shouldn’t be any kumquat explosion occurring during the infusion process since there isn’t any yeast in this (home brewed beer is another story though).
3. You could absolutely make this into kumquatcello. You’ll just make the infusion then add in the simple syrup after the infusion is complete (use the same sugar ratio as in your favorite limoncello recipe). Store the finished product in your freezer for a REAL treat!
4. Here’s a recipe for some easy candied kumquats. I used these to top some chocolate cupcakes. http://mymansbelly.com/2012/02/06/valentines-day-recipes-chocolate-orange-cupcakes/

Hope this helps! ENJOY!!!

Jeni April 11, 2012 at 9:21 pm

THANK YOU! Finally something to do with all these darn kumquats (our house came with a kumquat tree). I’m already making my second batch and had to triple it because the first batch was gone so fast. It’s fantastic plain, fantastic in a cosmo and gives a nice twist to a vodka tonic. I just made the blueberry vodka tonight too! Can’t wait to try it.

Pamela April 11, 2012 at 10:33 pm

I would love to see a picture of your tree. I’ve never seen one in anyone’s yard, and they’re always small in the nursery.

I’m so glad that you like it, and thanks for letting us know.

I just made up a batch of chicken salad and tossed in some kumquats. I’ll be posting the recipe soon.

You could also use the kumquats to make the triple sec recipe that I recently posted: http://mymansbelly.com/2012/02/10/a-triple-sec-recipe-to-make-your-drink-recipes-taste-even-better/

natalie November 26, 2011 at 11:36 pm

these sound awsome! you should def try cremesicle voli vodka shots they are absolutely amazing!

Lentil Breakdown July 14, 2011 at 7:39 pm

This is very inventive and great pics! Jealous you went to Paris right after Portugal. I’m getting itchy to go somewhere and am pondering Portugal.

Priscilla - She's Cookin' June 18, 2011 at 10:07 am

Haha, glad that a simple question allowed you to find the ECC (you’re so demanding ;)) and that your mom still reads the paper! Such a unique cocktail – an excellent use for kumquats!

Pamela June 18, 2011 at 12:41 pm

I love the little buggers! Do you have a kumquat tree in that orchard of yours? I’ve thought about getting one but….

Susan in the Boonies June 18, 2011 at 8:21 am

My girlfriend just got back from a trip to Paris and London! What a coinkydink! I’m starting to feel like a minority group, as in, the girl who didn’t get to go to Paris and London! (But I’ve been! I’ve been! So I know how wonderful they both are.)

So glad to have found your blog, with its glorious photography, and wonderful recipes!

I made my own limoncello last spring. Which of your infused vodka recipes do you suggest I try this year: I really want you to try to pick a couple of your favorites.

Pamela June 18, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Hi Susan, thanks for your kind words…I’m glad you’re enjoying the site.

My favorite infused vodka is the blueberry infusion. It tastes so much better than the store bought blueberry vodka’s (it actually tastes like real blueberries). Of course, I also am a bit partial to the strawberry infused gin, especially when it’s done with Hendrick’s Gin (which has a lot of herbal and floral essence already). Stay tuned for a new infused vodka coming in July. It’ll knock your socks off. ;)

I’m still working on my limoncello. It’s actually limequatcello and I just need to get it filtered and married with the syrup. Where does all the time go?

Happy imbibing! :)

Lori June 17, 2011 at 9:07 pm

I hope you had a wonderful trip! I’m all over the kumquats myself and posted a chocolate-kumquat-saffron gelato last week. LOVE that I can make an infused vodka with them too. I still have some on hand and will definitely be trying the vodka!

Pamela June 17, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Yum…that gelato sounds fantastic! I think I’m going to have to try that myself.

Marla June 17, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Lucky you that you got to go to Paris. Very creative to work in that cucumber jam. Sounds like you are mixing up a lot of good cocktails this summer :)

Pamela June 17, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Thanks Marla. I’ve got quite a few new ideas for the Friday drink posts.

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