It’s rhubarb season, y’all! But you won’t find me baking a fucking pie. Nope. I put that shit in cocktails. Like my rhubarb whiskey sour. And my rhubarb daiquiri. Oh, and my fancy, boozy jello eggs. I even put it in the drink for my Easter egg decorating party at Boulevard earlier this week. Basically, when I see rhubarb at the grocery store, I Supermarket Sweeps that shit. Then I make a big-ass batch of rhubarb syrup and use it in everything. I’m also real fond of saying, “Hey, the mash that’s left over is a great jam or compote or whatever.” I even wrote about it for Food52. But I don’t eat toast or ice cream often enough so it sometimes goes to waste — which is a damn shame because it’s fucking good.
But when I love something, I often find a way to put it in a cocktail, hence this pretty pink rhubarb tonic.
To be honest, I’ve been trying to rip off the rhubarb tonic from the now-closed Nightwood in Chicago since I tried it in the summer of 2013. And while it’s been long enough for my tastebuds to forget the specifics, I remember it being one of my favorite drinks. Ever. It was bubbly and slightly sweet and a little bitter from the tonic. I think this is as close as I’ve ever come to recreating it, and as close as I’m going to get. In fact, I’m calling it a win and giving up after this.
While the drink recipe itself is super easy — just three ingredients — getting there is a little labor intensive. First, you want to make my rhubarb syrup. But don’t worry, you’ll have lots of uses for it (see above!). And SAVE THE MASH.
Rhubarb Syrup / Mash
5-6 cups rhubarb, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Add the rhubarb, sugar, and water to a medium-size pot over medium to high heat, stirring occasionally. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and add the vinegar, cinnamon and cardamom. Stir, then let the mixture simmer for at least 30 minutes, or up to an hour. The longer it simmers the more syrupy it will become.
Strain the syrup into a bottle or mason jar and let it cool to room temperature, then seal and refrigerate. Did I mention you should SAVE THE FUCKING MASH?! Put it in an air-tight container and refrigerate it.
At some point you’ll want to blend or puree this goodness, so you can do that before you refrigerate it, or after, or just a little as needed. Whatever floats your fucking boat.
Now, you’re ready to roll with the drink.
2 tablespoons rhubarb mash puree
2 ounces whiskey
Cold tonic water
Add the rhubarb mash puree and whiskey to a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice. Shake vigorously then strain into an old-fashioned or collins glass. Add a handful of crushed ice (or a large ice cube, or regular fucking ice), and top it off with tonic water. Enjoy!
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