When I was in the store a couple of weeks ago, I spotted both cranberries and kumquats on sale. Never one to pass up a good deal, I swiped them both up with no clue on what I wanted to do with them. I had some ideas, but nothing set in stone. Since I had two bags of cranberries, I decided to make a simple syrup with one of the bags since I needed to use them up and it turned out so good. The tartness really shone through, and when I mixed it up with some muddled kumquats and a little tequila, I knew it was a hit.
This is a great recipe to make in a big pitcher for a crowd; just muddle a bunch of kumquats in the bottom of a pitcher and fill with the simple syrup, tequila, and some triple sec. Top that off with ice and you’ve got a party-pleaser for sure. I know this may seem more like a Cinco de Mayo recipe (and it would be great for that, too!), but it has that cranberry-citrus flavor that I love during the holidays, so I think this may be what I’ll be sipping on Christmas day.
If anything, you should definitely make this cranberry simple syrup to have on hand – I’m sure there’s a stray bag of cranberries in your fridge just begging to be made into this simple syrup. I threw some zest of kumquats and a few whole ones in there to bring out that citrus flavor, but if you have oranges and/or kumquats aren’t on sale where you are, add those instead.
Kumquat Cranberry Margaritas
For the cranberry simple syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 cups cranberries
2-3 kumquats, optional
For the drink (makes 1, but if you want to make a bigger batch, say in a pitcher, just increase ingredients):
About 7-8 kumquats, sliced and seeds removed, plus more slices for garnish
1 1/2 oz tequila
1 1/2 oz triple sec
1/2 oz cranberry simple syrup
Begin by making the cranberry simple syrup. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and cranberries. Heat until it comes to a boil, stirring occasionally, then simmer for 5-10 minutes. During the last minute or two of cooking, I add the zest of a few kumquats (it’s hard to get all of the zest off, obviously, so just a few swipes to release the essential oils) and then throw them in whole – they’ll permeate the syrup while cooling. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain into a glass jar and discard the cranberries/kumquats.
To make the drinks, add the sliced kumquats into a cocktail shaker. Muddle them to break them up and release their flavors. Add the tequila, triple sec, and cranberry simple syrup and a little ice and shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass with ice. Garnish with extra kumquat slices (I also added the ones from the shaker in for extra flavor); you can also salt the rim of the glasses if desired.