You know the old saying that good things come to those that wait? This is a really good thing worth waiting for! (It may not be that long of a wait, either!)
I fell in love with this liquor the very first time I had it. My parents had brought a bottle back from Greece with them and it didn’t last very long. My love for this is surpassed only by my love of Kumquat spoon sweets. Hmmm… I wonder if there’s a connection?
The island of Corfu is most noted for their production of both treats, almost exclusively. The fact that these were hard to find outside of Greece is what spurred me to grow my own kumquat tree so that I could at least make my own! The spoon sweets are easy, but the liqueur requires a distillery. Or does it?
In Corfu, either whole fruit or only the peels of the kumquat are used for the beverage. The pulp of the fruit can be bitter, but the peels are wonderfully sweet. However, you don’t need to go through the whole distillation process to get a really close approximation of this delightful cordial. You even have two options on how to make them, depending on your preference for taste intensity and sweetness. Either way, you’ll have something you’re sure to enjoy, and one method gives you something extra!
Greek Kumquat Liqueur Recipe
For both methods below, some cloudiness may occur since you are using real fruits and probably don’t have a super sophisticated particle extractor like what’s used for commercial beverage production. If it bothers you, the liquid can be filtered somewhat by pouring it through a paper coffee filter. It may be a slow process and may not get everything out, but it will make for a nicer presentation.
If your liqueur sits for an extended time, you may see clear “blobs” form at the bottom. No worries! This is the natural pectin from the fruit settling out due to the exposure to the alcohol. This can easily be filtered out through a paper coffee filter, as well.
Method 1 (This is a more hand-off process, but takes more time, but it’s also the method with a surprise treat!):
For every 1 1/2 pounds of kumquats you will need three cups of good quality vodka and two or more cups of granulated sugar. You will need to prick the kumquats several times all around with a clean needle (carefully, the kumquats need pricking, not you!). I have a short video in my post on making kumquat spoon sweets that will show you how to do it. Pricking the skin will help to extract flavor from the fruit out, and (fun fun!) allow vodka to get in.
Place the kumquats and vodka into a large jar together. The size and shape of the jar should allow for the kumquats to be able to just float. Add two cups of sugar and swirl the mixture around gently to help it dissolve. It’s okay if it doesn’t dissolve all at once. Place your jar somewhere cool and dark, like a cupboard or pantry, where it will need to stay for the next 40 days. This is a magical number with ties into Orthodox Christianity, but it’s also the perfect amount of time to allow flavors to truly blend and meld together. Gently swirl your jar every once in a while to ensure that everything is getting mixed well.
After the 40 days are done it’s sampling time! If you want your cordial to be sweeter, you can add more sugar. Gently swirl and set aside for a few days again to allow proper blending. I like mine on the sweeter side and usually end up adding about 4 cups of sugar to the mix.
Once you’ve achieved your preferred taste, you can draw from your jar whenever you would like some. The kumquats can be allowed to remain, which will keep them preserved nicely, but these are the bonus treats! Sweetened vodka infused kumquats? Yes, please!
Method 2 (This is more hands on, but gives quicker results, and this one can also have a surprise treat!):
For this method, you will need to make the kumquat spoon sweets. Once you’ve done that, you can simply add some of the syrup to a good quality vodka to your preferred taste. Again, I prefer a sweeter cordial and usually make a mix of 6-ish parts vodka to 4-ish parts syrup. You could also take some of the candied kumquat fruits and allow them to soak in the vodka as well.
You will still want to give time for the flavors of the syrup to blend in with the vodka. It really does make a difference if you allow it to sit for at least a full day, if not longer. If you decide to use some of the candied fruit and soak it, allow them to sit in the vodka for several days, if not at least a week. The flavor will be well worth the wait!