Thursday, June 3, 2021

Thirsty for Small-Batch & Local Spirits with the Kozuba & Sons Distillery Quince Cordial

Throughout the American experience, there have been hundreds - perhaps thousands - of individuals immigrating to this country who then opened a brewery, distillery, or planted vines corresponding to the practices in their home countries. But how many have literally migrated the complete operation from their home country to the United States? That's what occurred with Florida's Kozuba & Sons Distillery where Zbigniew Kozuba and his sons Matthias and Jacob moved their Polish distillery from Jablonka to St. Petersburg. 

During the latter part of the 2000s, the Kozuba family opened the distillery in order to fulfill escalating requests for cordials that Zbigniew had starting infusing in retirement from a biochemist career. Soon they augmented their portfolio with vodka distilled from a  hybrid copper still and became the " first family-owned and operated micro-distillery in post-war Poland".   In 2012 they started distilling the first Polish single malt whiskey along with other experimental whiskeys but eventually discovered that "Poland’s highly monopolized industry did not have room for a small, family-operated craft operation". 

They then decided to move to a country "thirsty for small-batch, local spirits" and the most logical choice was the United States and St. Petersburg’s Grand Central District. In 2014, they migrated their operation to the Sunshine State including two hybrid copper stills, both hand-made by Arnold Holstein in Germany. One still is dedicated to vodka production, and the other to whiskey production. 

During our recent trip to the area for a brewery - baseball tour, I quickly ran into the distillery in order to purchase and bring home their Quince Cordial ($20, 32.5%  abv,  375ml). I have been a consumer of Serbian Quince brandies for a number of years and have noticed generally tropical aromas and pear flavors. Quince is a pome fruit, related to apples and pears, that when ripe is bright yellow and looks like a fuzzy, short-necked pear. As a raw fruit, it is too sour and astringent to eat so is most often used in jams, cakes, and rakija. The Kozuba & Sons Quince Cordial is made macerating whole quince fruits and then aging for several years.  No preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors are used in the production process. 

Drinking neat, the Quince Cordial shows excellent dense fruit, both quince and fig;  but the syrupy texture begs for a cocktail. I found The Quinclet online and it packs a wallop but my favorite use was a recommendation by Keli Rivers when discussing her book, Negroni: More than 30 Classic and Modern Recipes for Italy's Iconic Cocktail. She likes to order a cider, take a large swig and then top off with Campari. I replicated with the cordial and it works by augmenting the refreshing apple flavors with denser pomme fruit. Na Zdrowie!

The Quinclet

The quince gives the finished article a more rounded flavor than a straight gimlet, however, the lime juice and bitters lend a pleasing bite to the finish.

Ingredients & Equipment:

40ml Dry Gin
20ml Quince Cordial
20ml Lime juice
Liberal dash, Angostura Bitters
Lime zest, to garnish
Cocktail shaker
Martini glass, chilled

Pour a couple of drops of bitters into the martini glass.
Give the gin, cordial, and lemon juice a jolt in a shaker with a couple of ice cubes.
Strain into the martini glass and garnish with a strip of lime zest.
Sit down before drinking!

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