beer, cider, wine and more from your home kitchen

Kumquat Elixir

Kumquat Elixir

Some years ago I was lucky enough to find a copy of Italian Liqueurs: History and Art of a Creation. If you have an interest in making liqueurs that are a bit out of the ordinary, this book is well worth finding. It’s  not only full of delightfully weird, complex and interesting recipes for Italian liqueurs, it’s spectacularly well illustrated with prints that show how plants and the liqueurs made from them have figured in Italian art.

At the time I bought it, Italian Liqueurs was a very rare book, and I got mine from a second-hand bookseller in Florence. We had a long and somewhat torturous email conversation, hobbling along on scraps of shared French and some Google Translate. I’ve since seen the book on sale for much less money and trouble: perhaps there was a reprint.

The recipe below for ‘Cumquat Elixir’ is presented as-is from Italian Liqueurs, save for a few small details. One, the author calls for 190 proof (90% abv) alcohol, whereas I have used a milder vodka (40%). Two, the author doesn’t specify to prick the kumquats; I did so because I love the full range of sweet, aromatic and acid flavours that the whole fruit gives when slowly macerated whole.

I have just set mine on, and so far it is developing well. The white vermouth, lemon zest and clove seem to marry beautifully, giving a spicy complexity.

Read on after the recipe for a gorgeous video about Italian Liqueurs.

Cumquat Elixir

  • 400ml vodka
  • 200ml white vermouth
  • 250g sugar
  • 400g cumquats (fortunella japonica or fortunella polyandra)
  • 2 cloves
  • Zest of one lemon


“Add all ingredients to a jar and let macerate for three months, delicately shaking the jar occasionally. After the three months, filter and bottle. Keep the bottles for another three months before tasting.

With the filtered remains you can prepare another aperitif by adding one bottle of Chinato wine or vermouth, then letting stand for another three months before filtering the new drink. Chinato wine or vermouth is made with red wine added with many spices, of which china (quinine) is one, especially in the Piedmont region of Italy, following well guarded secret recipes.”

Booze News

Did you enjoy this post? The Booze News is a curated collection of new ideas, recipes and research on home boozemaking from around the web. Some are from this site, some are from other good places. Add yourself here for irregular deliveries of deliciousness.

Related Posts

“If you can peel them, they’re not kumquats”: How to choose and use kumquats

“If you can peel them, they’re not kumquats”: How to choose and use kumquats

…That decade or more past Keats’s span makes me an older not a wiser man, who knows that it’s too late for dying young, but since youth leaves some sweetnesses unsung, he’s granted days and kumquats to express Man’s Being ripened by his Nothingness… ‘A Kumquat for John Keats’, by […]

Quince liqueur

Quince liqueur

I have a weird obsession with making liqueurs. They’re old fashioned, but that’s something I love about them. Just like a champagne cocktail, they are unexpected and delightful. My three-year-old particularly likes scouring op shops with me for pretty little liqueur glasses, and ceremonially choosing […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.