Fresh fruit is the mainstay of farm to glass cocktails, but in chillier months there’s another option: the richness of preserved fruit, specifically marmalade, which adds not only flavor and sweetness but also richness and depth to drinks. Since citrus and sugar are common ingredients in cocktails, marmalade helps mixologists save a step (and an ingredient). Here are some top picks for where to find the most scrumptious marmalade cocktails.
Suffragette City, Hunky Dory, Houston, Texas
Marmalade is most frequently served at breakfast, so it should come as no surprise that it features into some terrific brunch-themed cocktails. At Hunky Dory, several of the drinks have cheeky British names like Sheep Dip and Ground Control to Major Tom. The Suffragette City combines Earl Grey tea vodka, fresh squeezed lemon juice and a cordial made from simple syrup, orange marmalade, and vodka. It’s served in a coupe cocktail glass, served up, and garnished with an edible flower. Go ahead and order it with the Full English Breakfast, which comes with British banger, back bacon, black pudding, mushrooms, baked beans, and fried slice and eggs. Make a reservation at Hunky Dory.
Breakfast Martini, Fort Defiance, Brooklyn, New York
St. John Frizell, the bartender and operator at Fort Defiance in Red Hook, decided to put the most famous marmalade cocktail, the Breakfast Martini, on his menu after trying it for the first time in London. It’s made with gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, and orange marmalade. Says Frizell, “Salvatore Calabrese made it for me at the Fifty St. James Club. The drink is so simple, elegant, and delicious; I’m honestly surprised it doesn’t show up on more brunch menus.” Make a reservation at Fort Defiance.
Toast & Marmalade, Atrium DUMBO, Brooklyn, New York
At Brooklyn Bridge Park, you’ll find this chic dual-level dining room with a vertical garden, modern Mediterranean food, and a cocktail called Toast & Marmalade. It was inspired by breakfast — tea and rye toast spread with marmalade, in particular. It features rye bread-infused Guillon Painturaud VSOP Cognac, orange marmalade, Assam tea syrup, and an egg white, effectively encapsulating all the flavors of breakfast in each and every sip. Make a reservation at Atrium DUMBO.
Alibi, The Dorian, San Francisco, California
The Dorian is a modern-day parlor with plenty of clubby Victorian touches. The drinks menu is extensive with whiskey flights, no fewer than four martinis and a bottled cocktail that serves 3-5 people. According to bartender Ilya Romanov, the Alibi is a take on the original whiskey sour traditionally made with bourbon, lemon juice, and sugar. “Our take on it features Evan Williams Straight Bourbon Whiskey, house made salted pistachio syrup, fresh lemon juice, bitter orange marmalade and a drop of bitters.” It’s a refreshing and playful drink and reflects the same sweet and sour properties of orange marmalade with slight nutty and smoky notes. Make a reservation at The Dorian.
The Social Tea, The Stanton Social, New York, New York
Located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, The Stanton Social is a collaboration between several partners including celebrity chef Chris Santos. The menu features multi-ethnic shared-plate style dining and DJs spinning on the second-floor bar and lounge, so ace cocktails are a given. The Social Tea blends together citrus vodka, gunpowder green tea, and a housemade orange-honey marmalade to refresh the palate in between bites of Maryland Crab Cake BLT Sliders, Coconut Curry Samosas, and French Onion Soup Dumplings. Make a reservation at The Stanton Social.
The Autumnal-Dustup, Vie Restaurant, Western Springs, Illinois
Inspired by a jar of Seville orange marmalade in the canning room, beverage director Bill Anderson created a seasonal cocktail with Fidencio Pechuga mezcal, fresh lemon juice, thinned honey syrup, and an egg white. The result is a drink at once velvety textured, smoky, sweet, and sour — just right for cooler evenings and richer foods like Wood-Grilled Foie Gras, Pickled Braised Beef Cheeks, or housemade Vie Charcuterie. Make a reservation at Vie Restaurant.
Corn, Bread & Butter, Travelle Kitchen + Bar, Chicago, Illinois
Travelle Kitchen + Bar, formerly known as Travelle restaurant at the elegant Langham Hotel, now has a new bar director — Priscilla Young. She launched the current beverage program and, in particular, signature “Midwest Original” cocktails including the Corn, Bread & Butter. It’s made with a brown butter fat-washed Wisconsin moonshine mixed with cranberry and orange marmalade to reflect local flavors, perfect while taking in the Chicago river, panoramic cityscape, and skyline views from the lounge. Make a reservation at Travelle Kitchen + Bar.
Shiso Gimlet, Hakkasan, Las Vegas, Nevada
At sexy and chic Hakkasan the marmalade of choice isn’t orange, but yuzu, which is a particularly fragrant Asian citrus fruit. The Shiso Gimlet combines Nolet’s gin, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao, yuzu marmalade, lime juice, and shiso. Says Chad Davis, Hakkasan’s head bartender, “ We really love the taste of yuzu in that cocktail, but the fruit has a short growing season. We use yuzu marmalade to create a consistent flavor profile year round.” Make a reservation at Hakkasan.
Amy Sherman is a San Francisco-based writer, editor, blogger, and cookbook author. She is the publisher of the food blog Cooking with Amy. She currently contributes to numerous online publications including Food Network, Fodor’s and Refinery 29 and never says no to a warm donut. Follow her @cookingwithamy.
Photo credits: Chuck Cook (Hunky Dory); Hakkasan Group (Hakkasan Las Vegas).