We're just starting to enter the rhubarb season here in Norway, and after spotting some decent specimens in the supermarket the other day I threw a few stalks in my shopping trolley without any particular plan as to how I'd use them. I love rhubarb, but it's not something I use that often. I had vague ideas of making a rhubarb crumble, but apathy got the better of me. Until, that is, I thought of making a rhubarb drink. Here was a ludicrously simple way of getting a lovely hit of tart rhubarb. I couldn't not give it a go.
- 1kg rhubarb, washed, trimmed and cut into 5cm pieces
- 400ml water
- 350g sugar
- Place the rhubarb in a saucepan with the water. Cover and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes
- Strain the cooked rhubarb through a sieve collecting the juices in a bowl. Make sure you squish the rhubarb with a wooden spoon to get every last drop of juice
- Place the strained liquid in a clean saucepan, add the sugar and bring to the boil so that the sugar dissolves. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, skimming any foam from the surface
- Pour the hot liquid into sterilised containers for later use. To serve, use one part cordial to two parts cold water
I had seen one method of making it (here), which advocated making rhubarb infused gin first. This was no use to me as I'd already used up all the rhubarb I had to make the cordial. Instead I just used the cordial (which is basically a rhubarb infused simple syrup anyway) and shook it together with some Tanqueray London Dry gin, a couple of drops of Angostura bitters, and some lemon juice, and then added it to a splash of tonic water in a chilled glass.
Elly at Bristol's Pear Café I threw in a dollop of egg white – as you'd do for a whiskey or pisco sour – which did the trick perfectly, resulting in a head of light but densely packed bubbles. It took a little bit of trial and error until I got the right mix (note to self: do not put tonic water in the cocktail shaker before shaking), but below are the amounts I used. Feel free to play around with the proportions to suit your taste.
The end result was a pretty good impersonation of the real thing they serve at Bob Bob Ricard. And if I closed my eyes, I could almost, almost, imagine being back in that crazy Liberace-esque dining room. Happy times indeed.
Ingredients (makes 2 small glasses)
- 2 shots chilled gin
- 1 shot cold tonic water
- 3 shots cold rhubarb cordial (from above)
- 4 tsp lemon juice
- 4 tsp egg white
- 4 drops Angostura bitters
- Place all the ingredients except for the tonic water in a cocktail shaker with 2 cubes of ice
- Shake like billy-o
- Pour into 2 chilled glasses, into which you have divided the tonic water
- Smile :-)
(Postscript: I have since been reliably informed by Bob Bob Ricard co-owner Leonid that their version doesn't include any egg white. I tried making the drink without egg but I just couldn't get a decent enough foamy head. Apparently it took them almost 6 months to perfect their version. How they did it, I honestly do not know. Answers on a postcard please).