To bring an element of warmth, I infuse the simple syrup with pink peppercorns plucked from the branches of nearby Brazilian peppertrees. When dried, the berries have pretty, papery skins and a fruity bite. Find pink peppercorns in the spice aisle or online at Spice Station if you don't have a local tree.In combination, kumquats and pink peppercorns make an exceptionally refreshing soda – not overly sweet, and tangy with a trace of heat. I keep the syrup in a bottle in the refrigerator and slice a couple of kumquats to make individual drinks as the mood strikes. To serve a crowd, the ingredients could be mixed all at once in a pitcher.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 teaspoons dried pink peppercorns, lightly crushed
About 24 kumquats, sliced into rounds and seeded
About 3 liters soda water
Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes, stirring to dissolve the sugars.
Stir in pink peppercorns, remove from heat, and let stand for 30 minutes. Strain syrup through a fine-mesh strainer and reserve pink peppercorns for garnish. Let syrup cool completely.
For each drink, muddle 12 kumquat slices and 2 tablespoons of syrup in an 8-ounce glass. Add ice cubes if desired, then fill glass with soda water and stir. Garnish with a few pink peppercorns.
(Images: Emily Ho)