Not long ago we made some great rhubarb-infused vodka. What I never shared was that in addition to the vodka, I also infused some gin. I figured that while the rhubarb was still available I might as well try it. Then the May/June 2001 issue of Imbibe Magazine came out and there was a nice recipe for Rhubarb Bitters. Yep, I made that too, and as recipes go, this was not much more than chopping up some stuff and throwing it into a jar for a couple of weeks.
The "stuff" includes lots of rhubarb, some grapefruit peel, orange peel, and cinnamon all macerated in a jar of high-proof neutral spirits, then diluted some with water and sweetened with agave. It's not exactly bitter, but it has a great concentrated flavor that can be used to add complexity to cocktails or to season them to bring other ingredients together. Of course, you don't have to make rhubarb bitters to pull this off. You can buy some if you can find it. Fee Brothers Rhubarb Cocktail Bitters will work, but it's fun to make your own.
When it came time to try my bitters, I went back to the magazine and found this little gem by fellow blogger, Michael Dietsch, A Dash of Bitters:
Rurita by Michael Dietsch
2 oz blanco tequila
.5 oz Cynar
.5 oz fresh lime juice
.25 oz simple syrup
3 dashes rhubarb bitters
2 drops orange flower water, to rinse glass
Rinse a cocktail coupe with orange flower water and discard excess. Shake remaining ingredients with ice and strain into the glass.
How could I pass up another recipe that uses Cynar? Here's a nice cocktail with Tequila, and let's face it, there are not enough of those around! Add my favorite amaro and some lime juice and you already have a fantastic balance of sweet, sour, strong and complex. The rhubarb bitters ties it all together and the orange flower water adds a wonderful aroma that really is the icing on this cake. Give it a try if you can gather the ingredients, and check out Michael's blog. Oh, and grab a copy of Imbibe while you are at it.