Thursday, 2 May 2013

Rhubarb Cocktail Hour

Aoife, Cambridge

When I invite friends around for dinner I like to make sure they don't get short changed on the cocktail front, but for a recent gathering I was a little pressed for time and didn't have the energy to come up with something new. I decided to take a rhubarb cocktail I created last year and tweak it (to make it easier to make in large quantities) and also try out the addition of my new bottle of Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters. This is a very different bitters to the Spanish Bitters I talked about last week, with a sweet, sherbert like aroma and taste. I was intrigued as to how to would effect my cocktail.

The effect was profound. The rhubarb flavours were more pronounced, the whole cocktail seemed to operate at a different level of intensity. I am continually amazed how the right cocktail bitters, used judiciously, can make ingredients taste more of themselves. The best, happiest, most sparkly version of themselves. A bit like that person you fancy for ages and when you finally get off with them you are just radiating happiness and full of interesting conversation and even now, though you have been together for ages, they still bring out all the best bits of you (most of the time).

So anyway, bitters are fabulous. This cocktail is gorgeous. Make a jug full and enjoy.

recipe (serves one)

50mL rhubarb vodka
25mL lemon juice
25mL ginger and thyme infused sugar syrup*
2 dashes rhubarb bitters

Combine all the ingredients in large glass or cocktail shaker. Add plenty of ice and stir until the mixture is very cold. Strain into a prepared glass. Garnish with a ginger slice or pieces of ginger and thyme. I tend to make 5 or ten times this amount (depending on who is coming over) and keep it in the fridge until my guests arrive, then I can stir up portions when needed.

*To make the sugar syrup, take one part water and one part sugar (e.g. 500mL water and 500g sugar) and warm them gently in a saucepan until the sugar has completely dissolved. Take off the heat and add a peeled and grated "thumb" of ginger and a good handful of thyme. Allow to infuse for about an hour. Strain into a clean, sterilised bottle and store in the fridge until needed.

I have found it difficult to source anything other than Angostura in Cambridge so I am ordering my bitters online. There are lots if websites that stock them but I found Master of Malt to be really fantastic. A huge range of bitters, a very user friendly interface and speedy delivery.

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