Marmalade Mixology

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To try Derek's recipe for the Kinloch Plantation Special, a whiskey punch made with marmalade, click here.

To be a craft bartender in this day and age you had better know your way around a hand squeezer, juicer, or reamer. One of the tenets of craft bartending is the use of fresh juices. This is something that living legends of bartending, such as Dale Degroff and Tony Abou Ganim, have ensured is a legacy for successive generations of bartenders.

But what if you don't have fresh fruit, or what if you're looking for the character of preserved fruits? After all, if we were to be sticklers for localism—which is the logical extension of fresh fruits and vegetables—we wouldn't be able to use many of the "fresh fruits" we use year-round, which are shipped from exotic locales and bear the carbon footprint of a Sasquatch.

And, in some cases, I prefer preserved fruits. Shrubs for one are a great addition to cocktails. These are juices preserved with vinegar, sugar, and alcohol. Their use dates back to colonial times. And then there's marmalade.

The best marmalades are often said to be from Dundee, Scotland, which is also considered the mythic birthplace of marmalade.

Marmalade comes in many varieties and even has different cuts, thick and thin. It's likely a descendant of quince paste, as the name itself is derived from quince, though it's typically made with bitter Seville oranges and sugar. I've heard it described as jam with orange peels, or, for those of us who grew up with Welch's Grape Jelly, jelly with actual fruit and their peels.

Marmalade is a staple of the British breakfast and likely makes its first appearance in cocktails from England. The Savoy Cocktail Book lists a marmalade cocktail in its 1930 edition. Marmalade cocktail precursors may even be punches with guava, quince, and apple jelly that date from significantly earlier.

Marmalade made its way across the Atlantic in drinks such as the Kinloch Plantation Special (pronounced "kinlaw") in Charleston Receipts, the oldest junior league cookbook, in print from 1950. This is a whiskey punch of sorts with marmalade, nutmeg, and whiskey (recipe here).

Drinks writer Eric Felten describes a similar drink in The Wall Street Journal made by World War II general Omar Bradley, named appropriately "the Omar Bradley." It's an Old Fashioned with marmalade in place of fresh fruit, purportedly because General Bradley was not able to get fruit during the war and turned to the next likely source.

The best marmalades are often said to be from Dundee, Scotland, which is also considered the mythic birthplace of marmalade, although my personal favorite originates in Jamaica. It's Busha Browne's Burnt Orange Marmalade. Busha Browne's darker color and richer taste make it an instant hit with whiskey. I'm also a fan of Robert Lambert's marmalade, which is made in the United States. In addition to a standard marmalade, Lambert offers exotic flavors such as yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit.

Definitely stick with fresh juice, but stock up on a few preserved fruits to have the full compliment of fruit offerings for your drinks.

Recipe: Kinloch Plantation Special

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Derek Brown is a writer, illustrator, bartender, and co-owner of acclaimed bars The Passenger and Columbia Room in Washington, D.C. He sits on the board of directors for the Museum of the American Cocktail. More

Derek Brown is a writer, illustrator, bartender, and co-owner of acclaimed bars The Passenger and Columbia Room in Washington, D.C. He travels throughout the country and around the world in search of great drinks, and the stories behind them. Derek's methodical approach to cocktails was profiled in the Wall Street Journal's "A Master of Mixological Science" and his martini lauded as the best in America by GQ. He's been in numerous media outlets featuring his approach to better drinking, including CNN, The Rachel Maddow Show and FOX. Derek is a founding member of the D.C. Craft Bartender's Guild and on the board of directors for the Museum of the American Cocktail.
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