So I’ve decided to start something new……I’m into craft cocktails and I know you would be too, if you saw how easy they are to make! So I’m going to start a weekly (OK, sometimes it won’t be weekly, because as you know, life gets in the way!) blog called Cally’s Cocktails. Each week I will feature I different, unique, or classic cocktail that you can make at home. How do I know you can make them at home? Because I am making them in my home! You should need very little equipment, basic bar-ware, such as a shaker and shot glass should suffice. Everything else can be improvised. I happen to collect bar-ware, even though my husband has no idea why! But I will show alternatives to using equipment when I can.
Full disclosure, I obviously had to try the cocktails before writing this, so cut me a little slack if it’s not perfectly put together. Rest assured, though, I had a really good time trying out the drinks and writing the article!
This week I wanted to start out with something that was inspired by two of my favorite things, my Mom and Farmers Markets! I was visiting the Lexington Farmers Market this week when I noticed some produce that I would have normally overlooked.
Rhubarb had caught my eye and I couldn’t leave without it! I have never eaten rhubarb, much less cooked with it. The nice man at the stall gave me some tips on preparing it and said it makes the perfect pallet cleanser for any meal. I didn’t want to make something predictable, like a pie, and my husband has been traveling all week, so making it for a meal was out. I’ve been eating take-out and leftovers since he left! Still, I had to buy it. So I did what I do whenever I have strange ingredients sitting around the house that I don’t know what to do with, I decided to make a cocktail! This is where my second bit of inspiration came into play. My Mom gets to be the Guinea pig for most of my cooking and drinks, so I try to cater to her tastes when I can, because she will try anything I put in front of her, no matter how crazy or weird it is! So for that reason, when I can, I try to go with flavors that she prefers.
So for this little project I hit the internet looking for some way to pair my rhubarb with liquor. That is how I came across a little known mix, called a shrub. Yes, a shrub! What is a shrub you may ask? Why I will tell you! There are two different ways a shrub is made into a cocktail, but for our purposes, a shrub is basically a drinking vinegar. That is where my Mom comes into play. She prefers acidic flavors to overly sweet. We actually have a problem finding cocktails sometimes, because most of the time, they are really sweet! So, since I knew she would want to try one on my next trip to Florida, I decided to go on ahead and start practicing! If you want the full explanation of a drinking shrub, go to this page on Wikipedia, Drinking Shrub, and check it out. I thought it was very interesting, but I wanted to give you the choice to read further into them or not. Sometimes I go a little overboard learning all the information I can about certain subjects, and it can get a little overwhelming to a normal person, so I’ll give you the choice.
Now that we know what this type of shrub is, and why I chose it, let’s get into making the cocktail. I made the drinking vinegar yesterday, so that the flavors would have time to develop, and let’s be honest, I have a four month old in my home, I do things when I find time! Anyways, I chose to add ginger to the vinegar mix, because I thought it would taste good, and I had some leftover from another recipe. So yesterday, I made the vinegar mix, which makes this drink a shrub. Then, today while the baby was taking a nap, I raided the liquor cabinet to see what bottles I had left in there from before I was pregnant. I’ve been keeping mostly to wine since the baby was born, but now that summer is rolling around, I’ve been looking forward to my rum and gin drinks! Anyways, I found a nice bottle of rum, but no other clear liquors. The moonshine in my fridge doesn’t count, because you don’t really find them in mixed cocktails on a Friday afternoon. They are saved for late night when you have company over and don’t plan on getting up early the next morning! So I knew I could do a rum drink, but I also enjoy gin, and some of you may have a preference one way or the other, so I wanted to make sure this mix would work with both choices. So I loaded the baby up in the truck, in between thunderstorms, and we went to our favorite store….Kroger Liquor. We aren’t lucky enough to have ABC Liquor here, and it was about to rain again, so we didn’t make it to Liquor Barn, my home away from home. But we found what we needed at Kroger, and made it back home before the sky opened up on us again.
I tried a few different version of this drink before coming up with what works for me. Now, if you prefer a less sweet drink, substitute the club soda with tonic water. That’s what I plan on doing when I make this drink for my Mom. If you like tart with a little sweet, stay with the club soda. Remember, this is your preference, so you don’t have to follow my recipe exactly. Add more of anything you like, or take a little away. I always make my drinks a little strong, but you can always cut out some of the liquor. The shrub itself with lime juice and club soda actually makes a very nice, refreshing drink for a summer afternoon.
So, now for the recipe! I made the measuring easy…I just used what I had in the kitchen, so there’s no extra work with clean up. This recipe makes one cocktail. It can be made ahead of time in a pitcher, just add the club soda or tonic water to each individual cocktail before serving, so they stay fizzy.
1 large bunch of rhubarb, cut into ¼ inch pieces
½ ginger root, cubed (ginger is basically sold in the same sized, uniform pieces at the grocery store. You only need about ½ of one. The smaller and thinner you cut it, the more flavor you will infuse into the shrub)
1 cup of sugar
½ cup apple cider vinegar
-Put all ingredients into a pot on a high burner. Stir with a spoon, until everything is mixed will, and the sugar looks to be dissolved.
-When the mixture boils, reduce the heat, so that it is barely simmering.
-Let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb pieces start to become more translucent and peel apart.
-Once you are done cooking the mix, transfer to a clean, glass container, using a colander to keep the solid bits out of the mix. If you have a piece of cheesecloth on hand, you can line the colander with it, but if you don’t mind a little extra garnish, you should be fine with just the colander.
-Store in the refrigerator for about two weeks.
For the cocktail:
1 shot of shrub mix
2 shots of gin or rum (vodka would probably work, but I don’t drink it, so I can’t tell you for sure)
Juice from 1/2 Lice
Ice to fill shaker
Club soda or tonic water to fill the glass
Highball or Collins glass (Really any cup will work, solo cups and Tervis tumblers would be perfect. Just add the club soda or tonic water according to the size glass you have and how strong you want them to be)
-Mix the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, until the outside of the shaker becomes frothy and chilled.
-Strain into your glass and add your club soda or tonic water.
Please join me next week (hopefully!) and we’ll look at a new craft cocktail that you can make at home and impress all of your guests at your summer get togethers!