A Sarcastic Appetite

A Work in Progress
May 16, 2009, 1:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Not too long ago I told you about my too-sweet kumquaticello and my inability to figure out what the heck to do with it. I shouldn’t have been so concerned. The other night I was messing around in the kitchen until it hit me: the memory of a coupe de colonel I had once in France, which is really just lemon sorbet with vodka generously poured over the top, and maybe some mint thrown on there too. It’s delicious – and reminiscient of limoncello, which is what had gotten me into this predicament in the first place.

I knew I was on to something, and whipped open the freezer door to see what we had lying around. And there it was: Ciao Bella Blood Orange Sorbet, albeit with a sizeable amount of freezer burn. Whatever –  I was not about to be deterred so easily from a good drink. I scraped it off, scooped some into a champagne flute, poured some not-quite-frozen-but-still-slushy kumquaticello over the top, and spooned a soupy bite.

It was…better, but still too sweet. I needed something else, something to turn this into more of a drink than a soupy dessert. I needed something with a bite to it, something to cut the sweetness. And I needed something that wouldn’t take any color away from what was becoming a very good looking drink.

And then it came to me: I needed Campari.

Campari is not something I typically turn to, and in fact, I must admit, I don’t very much like it. Technically a bitter, it’s an Italian aperitif made from infused herbs and aromatics and fruit. And it’s, well, bitter. I’ve tried Negronis and Americanos and could just never quite get past the flavor. But it was clearly just the thing I needed for my little experiment.


I threw my halfway-cocktail into the freezer and ducked around the corner to the liquor store, where $3 bought me the tiniest little bottle of Campari. I poured a floater over the top and stirred it vigorously – the sorbet was still a bit solid and the kumquaticello still a bit slushy, which made for a weird not-dessert-but-not-quite-a-drink texture. I took a slurp and liked it.

Yeah, I did. At first I feared the Campari would be too much, too bitter, but then the sweetness of the kumquaticello comes in and finishes it off. Both are such strong flavors, it’s almost as if they cancel each other out – but they don’t, because the drink ends up tasting of both without being overwhelmed by either. And the color, always an important consideration in the business of cocktail-making, was pretty good too. I christened it the Kumquaticello Americano. (Ok, ok, so I took some poetic license.)


Next time I’ll let the sorbet soften a bit more and leave the kumquaticello in the freezer, and maybe add some sparking water to lighten it up a bit. Or: maybe I need to rethink it as a dessert – the sorbet with the liqueur and Campari over the top. I wonder how it would be garnished with some lemon basil? Or some candied kumquats chopped and sprinkled over the top? I guess this is still a work in progress, and something that will require a lot of taste-testing until I get it just right. And you know, I wouldn’t mind that one bit.

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