You can taste great food in your head long after you first experience it. That’s the case for me and the rhubarb cocktail I drank at Franny’s in 2009. Most rhubarb drinks have a cooked quality to them; the rhubarb is generally poached in a sugar syrup. The Franny’s rhubarb drink (which, apparently, is made with Aperol) is nothing like that. The rhubarb flavor (which comes from juicing rhubarb raw) is intense and sharp and the cocktail, as a whole, is incredibly bracing. It’s the kind of drink that makes you sit up in your seat, alert and ready for dinner.
Which is why yesterday, when I came home from the farmer’s market with rhubarb (along with strawberries and sugar snap peas) I knew what i had to do. I had to make a raw rhubarb cocktail of my own.
After washing and cleaning four stalks of rhubarb, I cut them into chunks and placed them in a blender with approximately 1 cup of cold water (to help them blend up):
I turned the blender on high and let it whir until I had lots of liquidy rhubarb pulp:
The next part was easy. I simply pressed the pulp through a sieve into a neon green bowl (you can see the dry remains on the right; it almost looked like a Brillo pad or a brain):
And here’s my bowl of beautiful, intensely astringent rhubarb juice:
Now I had a choice. I could leave this ingredient alone, make a simple syrup to sweeten it up and then shake it up with white rum (my plan all along). Or, instead of introducing extra water through the simple syrup, I could turn the rhubarb juice into its own simple syrup. I’d do that by pouring the juice into a pot with an equal amount of sugar and heating just until the sugar melted. And that’s precisely what I did:
If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have used an equal amount of sugar (1 cup sugar to 1 cup liquid). The final drink was too sweet for Craig; so next time I’ll cut it down to 1/2 cup sugar to 1 cup liquid to see what that tastes like. Proceed accordingly.
The point is, though: don’t cook that juice. Just let the sugar melt and then refrigerate until everything cools. That syrup will amaze you. It still has that intense raw flavor, except it’ll be sweet. You don’t even have to use it in this particular recipe; it’d be great as an afternoon treat with just soda water added. Call it a Raw Rhubarb Fizz.
As for how I turned it into a daiquiri, I simply added a bunch of the syrup to a cocktail shaker, added enough white rum to make it taste potent (I kept tasting as I added the white rum, so I don’t have an amount to give you. Do it according to what tastes good to you.) Add ice, shake it up and strain into vintage glasses that you buy in Williamsburg. Voilà:
Again, because all of the sugar in the syrup, Craig didn’t enjoy his. He fixed it though by adding a squeeze of lemon juice and some filtered water. As for me, I kind of loved it. Yes, it was super sweet and it could’ve been less sweet, but that raw rhubarb flavor was exactly what I was looking for. So look out for many more raw rhubarb cocktails to come!