Pale and potted, the little tree outside Rue 127 may look unassuming, but the kumquats plucked from it add a sweetly sour tang to the punchy Quat, You Like cocktail on the restaurant's drinks list. On the bar, the kumquats rest in a jar of grain alcohol; simple syrup will be added to that infused base to make a kumquatcello.
Since last fall, Rue 127's bar menu has been in the hands of John Slavich, who's here by way of Ancora and A Mano. I get his first batch of kumquatcello in my 'Quat cocktail, paired here with Redbreast, an assertive and almond-fruity Irish whiskey that's aged 12 years in sherry casks.
(No matter your definition of "pot still" - whether it's a reference to the mash or to the vessel in which it's distilled - Redbreast fits the category. It's made in a single pot still, as opposed to a column still, and it's made of malted and unmalted barley.)
In this drink, Slavich also adds a Danish honey wine seasoned with hops and herbaceous, caraway-infused aquavit, which lends a port-like structure and vaguely grapey back notes.
This trinity of spirits (and "I don't think a cocktail should have more than five ingredients," says John) make up a honeyed, silky cocktail with citrus-whiskey heat - and, like the simple kumquat tree, pack a surprising potent brightness.
Rue 127, 127 N. Carrollton, 483.1571
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