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Kumquat Liqueur, the Iconic Local Drink of Corfu

kumquat liqueur corfu
Kumquat liqueur is Corfu’s iconic drink. Credit: Phuong Tran/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

The Greek island of Corfu is known internationally for its unique kumquat liqueur.

When visiting the Greek island of Corfu and wandering around the picturesque little roads of the old town, you are likely to see a variety of bottles containing the orange liquid.

Locals simply call it kumquat, and it is the local spirit that has become a trademark of the island.

Several distilleries produce the liqueur, but many other culinary products use this fruit as the main ingredient, as well.

Corfu is famous for its kumquat liqueur

The tiny orange fruit is originally from China and South Japan. In Asian countries, they also use the kumquat as bonsai, and it is sometimes given as a gift as a symbol of good luck.

The meaning of the term is “golden fruit,” and it was introduced on the island of Corfu by an English agronomist in 1860. Since that time, the kumquat has become one of the main agricultural products of the island.

The tree, also known as the Marumi kumquat, produces a small, round or oval-shaped, golden-yellow fruit with a sweet peel. The pulp, however, is rather bitter and is mainly used as an ingredient for spoon sweets, marmalade, and jelly although it is possible to eat the kumquat raw.

The color of the beverage determines whether the liqueur has been made from the rind or from the fruit itself. If the color is bright orange, then it has been made only with the skin.

It is very sweet in taste and extremely fragrant, as well. As it is also quite strong in taste, it is the preferred option for making cocktails as well as for adding flavor to creams and puddings among other desserts.

The white liqueur, instead, is considerably less sweet; locals usually serve it after meals the same way they serve ouzo, tsikoudia, and tsipouro in other parts of Greece.

On Corfu, many local companies produce a variety of delicacies from the fruit, such as kumquat syrup (ideal as a topping on Greek yogurt) and marmalade, and it is even used in cookies.

The History of Corfu Island

Corfu is one of Greece’s most beautiful and storied islands. It shares its name with its most populous city, Corfu, which also serves as the capital of the Ionian island archipelago along the coast of the Ionian Sea.

Corfu is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience Greek island life. Its breathtaking scenery, mountain ranges, and beaches are amongst the most memorable in the country, and its blend of cultural histories and influences, ranging from French and English to Venetian and, of course, Greek, will provide you with a unique understanding of how the culture of the Ionian islands developed.

Corfu’s history can be traced back all the way to Ancient Greece and Greek mythology. Corfu is known as Kerkyra in Greek, a name derived from the nymph Korkira. In Greek mythology, Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, falls in love with Korkira, kidnaps her, and hides her away on the island that now bears her name.

The myth claims that Poseidon and Korkira gave birth to a line of people who became known as the Phaeacians. Corfu later made an important appearance in another notable myth. On Odysseus’ journey back to Ithaca, he becomes shipwrecked and washed up on the shores of Corfu, where the Phaeacians help him continue on his return journey home.

It’s no coincidence that Corfu features prominently in the world of ancient Greek mythology. There’s archaeological evidence that shows the island had developed human communities all the way back to the Paleolithic era. In fact, people were living on Corfu before it even became an island. The sea that encircles Corfu was only a lake until the most recent Ice Age caused the sea level to rise between 10,000 to 8,000 BC.

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