Looking back at my cocktail notes (yep, I took notes on cocktail making long before I started this blog), I see that a year ago today I had Mr. Manhattan, my most-accomplished cocktail-making friend, over for drinks. If you’re seriously interested in spirits, you should definitely check out his blog for cocktail geekery that I cannot hope to equal in this lifetime.
I knew that Mr. Manhattan was going to bring over some of his latest concoctions, like the black cherry and balsamic shrubs he had been working on. He had already tasted all my favorite cocktails, so I looked around the kitchen to see if there was anything in the kitchen I could plan around with. I came up with a watermelon, two overripe peaches, and a single stalk of rhubarb, all from our box of organic produce that is delivered weekly.
Googling for cocktail recipes proved extremely unsatisfying (as it often does). I found tons of recipes using the diabetes-inducing Watermelon Pucker, or peach schnapps, and precious few that used fresh fruit. One of the most interesting-sounding options was the Rhubarb Cocktail #1, on the Drink Dogma website, which is the site of Anvil Bar & Refuge in Houston.
I chose this recipe because it was one of the few cocktails that called for fresh muddled rhubarb instead of a rhubarb puree. I’ve made a few successful cocktails with rhubarb puree before, but honestly, it’s a bit of a pain in the arse, since the rhubarb turns all fibrous as you cook it down with sugar and water, and you spend up a lot of time shoving the thick puree through a fine-mesh strainer with the back of a spoon.
The link to the recipe that I found last year seems to be broken, but as I recall it, this was how it went:
Rhubarb Cocktail #1
1 stalk diced rhubarb
3/4 oz lime juice
1 1/2 oz Flor de Cana White Rum
1/2 to 3/4 oz Caramel Syrup
1 dash Fee Brother’s Aromatic Bitters
I believe I muddled the rhubarb and lime juice, then added the remaining ingredients, shook with ice, and strained into a chilled cocktail glass.
However, I couldn’t figure out what they meant by “Carmel Syrup,” so I emailed the bar and asked. (In the meantime I used plain simple syrup). After a week or so I got a response from Robert Heugel, the Anvil Bar’s co-owner, who wrote:
Wow, that was a while back. I had to check it out again to see which one you were referring to. For that you just take the sugar and make it into a caramel; then you take the caramel and make it into a syrup by cooking a degree of water into the syrup making it a caramel simple syrup (which would be less thick than a caramel). I hope that helps.
Wacky. I’ve never heard of this technique before, but now I want to give it a try.
The verdict? Eh. Pretty good, but I wasn’t bowled over. I mean, it’s basically a daquiri, with a bit of an extra bitter and herbal edge from the rhubarb. And it rather glowed an ungodly shade of pink. But really, if I were stuck on a desert island with a rhubarb plant and a case of rum, I suppose I could subsist on these quite happily.