05 May 2014
Strawberry rhubarb vodka sparkler
It's super hard to find a lot of specialty northern fruit and veg in California. By "specialty" I mean things that aren't really grown here: ramps, fiddleheads, and rhubarb. The ramps and fiddleheads never show up no matter how hard you look. But lo! Finally, after several no-dice grocery store searches, I got my hands on a couple stalks of delightful ruby-red rhubarb. Yay!
(I totally just had to use my iron will not to call those searches "fruitless." Er. Clearly my will is not all that iron. ANYWAY.)
The question was what to do with it. John suggested rhubarb scones, but it suddenly got too hot to bake. Clearly, refreshing spring cocktails were the answer. So I made a rhubarb-infused simple syrup and started mixing.
Rhubarb simple syrup
2 cups chopped rhubarb
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Combine rhubarb, sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Cook slowly over low-medium heat, covered, for about 20 minutes. Strain out the solids and chill the syrup thoroughly before using.
Check out the ultra-pink results! OH MAN.
Now I just had to decide what to do with it. Fortunately, we had a handful of beautiful spring strawberries in the refrigerator. What could possibly pair better with rhubarb?
Strawberry-rhubarb vodka sparkler
3/4 oz rhubarb simple syrup
2 oz vodka
~1 cup sparkling water
mint or lemon to garnish
also lots of ice
Wash and roughly chop your strawberries. Muddle them well in a cocktail shaker with your rhubarb syrup. Add ice and vodka, and then shake for as long as you can possibly stand it, preferably for at least a minute. This is especially important if your strawberries didn't want to muddle.
Strain into an ice-filled pint glass. You may need to clear strawberry seeds out of the strainer midway through the process. Add sparkling water, garnish with a mint sprig or lemon twist, and drink.
If you want to serve this as an ultra-lethal martini, just leave out the sparkling water and serve up in a martini glass. Be careful, though! It's going to taste like candy and be super alcoholic. So, you know, the sparkling water version is a better idea for a hot day when you just want to gulp down your drink as fast as possible.
Voila! A delightful, refreshing, seasonal, and beautifully pink cocktail. It's an excellent plan for a bright and sunny afternoon.
Now I just have to figure out what to do with the rest of the simple syrup. Ideas:
- Add lemon, mint, or ginger to the strawberries and rhubarb syrup before muddling. All the flavor variations!
- Add some freshly ground black pepper. You know strawberry and pepper can be great together. Why not?
- Try using the rhubarb syrup in a mojito with lime. Yes, rhubarb mojito!
Some of these are going to have to happen in the near to immediate future. I'm just saying.
What refreshing drinks are you making with your spring rhubarb?