by Corin Hirsch
Another year, another exploding rhubarb patch. With so many stems and no real talent for baking, I sometimes use the tart stalks for a nefarious purpose: drinking. Last year, I gave a bundle of stalks to an acquiantance to make bitters, which he returned to me a few weeks later; I also paired a rhubarb simple syrup with raspberries, rum and mint for this juicy little number.
This year, I'm armed with an Omega juicer, a masticating monster of a machine. I fed some rhubarb stalks into it over the weekend, and their fibers proceeded to get tangled around the auger — but some rosy-pink juice trickled out, too. Its tartness was even more powerful than I expected.
I tried blending this juice with tequila (ick) and shook it together with vodka (which was just OK). Though I had forgotten that it was Smugglers' Notch Distillery Rum that worked so well last year, it's the very place I ended up again this year.
I dribbled some rhubarb juice together with this smooth, oaky rum, as well as with some Orleans Bitters, grapefruit and lime juices, mint and a few spoonsful of rhubarb simple syrup to balance out the tartness. It sounds like a strange combination on the surface, but it yielded a silky drink whose pretty pink color belies its potent, tart-bittersweet flavors.
With its combo of sugars, rum and citrus, this drink resembles a daiquiri, but barely. You could serve this over the rocks and top it with sparkling water for a spritzer, too; I simply shook the drink until it was really cold and then sipped it from a dainty vintage cocktail glass, garnished with even more herbs.
I'll probably finesse it over the next few weeks. But version 1.0 is pretty quenching. See recipe after the break.
Ice, preferably cracked
2 ounces aged rum, such as Smugglers' Notch Distillery Rum
1 ounces Orleans Bitters (Campari is a decent alternative)
1/2 ounce simple syrup (rhubarb simple works really well, naturally)
1/2 ounce rhubarb juice*
1/2 ounce grapefruit juice
1/4 ounce fresh lime juice
Spring of mint
Add ice and a sprig of mint to a cocktail shaker. Add rum, Orleans, simple syrup and juices, then shake for 10 seconds. Strain into cocktail glass, or serve in an ice-filled tumbler, topped with sparkling water to taste.
*To juice rhubarb: Cut the stalks from the leaves, as the latter are toxic. Wash the stalks and cut into 3-inch-long pieces. Either push them through a juicer, or put them into a saucepan with just enough water to cover. Bring this to a boil until the stalks are softened, then remove from heat. Allow to cool, then strain the juice through a sieve, pressing on the pulp to get out every last bit of liquid.