Rhubarb is a wonderful thing in desserts, cakes and a number of savoury dishes and there's some excellent forced rhubarb around at the moment. But what happens when you have rhubarb but you just can't face eating yet another rhubarb crumble? Well, I make rhubarb vodka.
It's an extremely pleasing drink when chilled and sipped on its own but it's even nicer in a cocktail. The good news is that it's easy to make at home. At least, it is if you make it this way. There are more complex recipes, but I'm happy to keep it simple.
Start by finding some good rhubarb and then this is all you need to do:
- For a 700 ml bottle of decent, neutral vodka, you'll need around 400 g of prepared rhubarb: just chop the cleaned stalks into small pieces and add them to a sterilised jar with a tight seal.
- Pour over the vodka. At this point, you need to decide how sweet the resulting drink should be. For average, freshly-picked rhubarb I'd recommend 4 - 6 tablespoons of caster sugar, but add a little more or less if you wish. You could also add a strip or two of lemon and orange zest. It's possible to add other spices and flavours at this point but I like to keep it quite plain. (I might be persuaded to add a small touch of vanilla sometimes).
- Seal the jar tightly. Give it a good shake to dissolve the sugar. Put in a cupboard and leave it for a month, remembering to shake the jar at least three times a week. The timing at this stage is not really critical but the drink will need at least 3 weeks and I don't really think it improves much, if at all, beyond 4 or 5 weeks.
- When the time's up, pour the contents of the jar through a sieve into a jug and discard the rhubarb and any zest (there won't be much flavour left in it). Filter the resulting liquid through a double layer of muslin.
- Pour into a clean, sterilised bottle and seal.
Rhubarb vodka will add a certain something to many cocktails but you could start with this version of a French Martini.
To make 1 drink:
50 ml rhubarb vodka
20 ml raspberry liqueur (I use Chambord, but other varieties will work)
60 ml pineapple juice
5 - 10 ml lemon juice (depending on how sweet your vodka and raspberry liqueur are)
Shake all the ingredients with ice until you get a bit of a froth on top of the drink (that shouldn't take too long).
Strain into a chilled martini glass.
At this point you could garnish the drink with a little pineapple but I admit that usually I can't be bothered.