Seasonal Flavor: Rhubarb

Rhubarb is an obscure plant and doesn’t get the recognition it deserves as far as being unique flavor ingredient in cocktail.  Rhubarb’s long, spindly stalks are a good sign that spring has arrived. The spring is the time of the year that mixologists get excited about the plethora of harvested herbs, berries, grapefruit, stone fruits, and the little known, rhubarb that are available. It allows for much creativity, innovation, experimentation, and flavor contrasts in your cocktail shakers.

Rhubarb is a herbaceous perennial, but is botanically a vegetable, but legally classified as a fruit in the United States because of the plant’s association with pies and other baked goods. Raw rhubarb is not the most flavor-packed ingredient, but once you cook it, the stalks’ tart essence gets revealed. When you simmer rhubarb with sugar and water together, you reduce the stalks to a sweet-tart syrup that can be used in a variety of ways. Because of its aroma, the rhubarb syrup is a nice complement to Gin or any other bitter ingredient, such as Campari or Aperol, because of its natural botanicals and juniper berries.

At Madam Geneva in New York, Brett Hughes turns rhubarb into a delicious shrub by gently heating it with sugar, raspberry vinegar, coriander and pink peppercorns. Other smart ways with rhubarb: adding marmalade for a Breakfast Martini from London’s Salvatore at Playboy; mixing with dry and delicate manzanilla sherry in the Rhubarb Fix; or sipping the delightful rhubarb-based amaro Rabarbaro Zucca, which I personally have never heard of. Many of these recipes can be found at www.liquor.com You can also add the syrup or shrub to club soda or seltzer creating a refreshing non-alcoholic drink. Rhubarb isn't just for pies anymore.

Rhubarb & Strawberry Collins

  • 1.5 oz Gin or vodka
  • .5 oz Aperol
  • .75 oz Rhubarb Syrup*
  • .75 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • .5 oz Fresh strawberry juice (or 2 muddled strawberries)
  • Club soda

Garnish: Pickled Rhubarb** stalk and lemon wheel

Glass: Highball

Add all the ingredients except the club soda to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with club soda and garnish with a pickled rhubarb stalk and a lemon wheel.

*Rhubarb Syrup

  • 2 qt (64 oz ) Water
  • 8 cups Sugar
  • 4 cups Roughly chopped rhubarb

Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Cook for 5 minutes more, turn of the heat and let cool completely. Strain, and store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

**Pickled Rhubarb

  • 2 tbsp Coriander seeds
  • 3 tbsp Pink peppercorns
  • 4 cups Sugar
  • 1 qt (32 oz) Raspberry vinegar
  • 4 cups Rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into 3-inch lengths

Toast the coriander and peppercorns for a minute or two in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and vinegar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator until cold and pour over the rhubarb. Refrigerate for at least a few hours before using.

Rhubarb Fix

  • 1.5 oz Gin
  • 1 oz Manzanilla sherry
  • .75 oz Rhubarb Syrup*
  • .5 oz Fresh lemon juice

Garnish: Mint sprig

Glass: Rocks

Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig.

*Rhubarb Syrup

  • 2 qt (64 oz ) Water
  • 8 cups Sugar
  • 4 cups Roughly chopped rhubarb

Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Cook for 5 minutes more, turn of the heat and let cool completely. Strain, and store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

This cocktail is served at Madam Geneva in New York.

  • 1.5 oz Stoli Gala Applik Vodka
  • .75 oz Rhubarb syrup (one part rhubarb juice, four parts simple syrup)
  • .75 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 sprigs Fresh rosemary

Garnish: Apple fan

Glass: Cocktail

Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an apple fan on a cocktail pick.

 

 

Comments

Managy

This article brought back great memories of my grandmother who grew rhubarb in her yard outside of Chicago. If she were here today I would love for her to make one of these delicious drinks along with her homemade pies.