(Pictured: Manuela & Me @ Roman’s)
There’s something about a great cocktail that makes any time a good one (Psst, Kim: I think it has something to do with the booze). Last night was no exception. My friend Tobias somehow got permission from his boss to throw a cocktail party at Roman’s (the restaurant he regularly bartends at). I took my friend, fellow food/booze lover, and kick-ass reporter Manuela with me to sample his most excellent libations.
First, a word about Roman’s. It. Is. Awesome. Part of the Marlow & Sons/The Diner mini-empire, Roman’s serves up effin’ delicious, locally sourced Italian food and has a menu that changes daily. Unfortunately for my sobriety, the kitchen was closed for the party. Fortunately, I drank so many delicious cocktails that I forgot about being hungry in the first place (that is a total lie: after leaving Roman’s I took the R to Canal Street and devoured a bowl of wonton/roast pork noodle soup at Great NY Noodletown).
Probably the best drink I had all night was a Rhubarb Gimlet that Tobias made with fresh rhubarb syrup. I didn’t want to bother him for the recipe while he was working, so I sent him a poorly-worded, hungover email this morning, half-assedly asking him to share his secret (something to the tune of: “groan. rhubarb gimlet good. how to make? thanks, head hurts, blugh”). Here’s his much more thoughtful reply:
“Rhubarb syrup is delicious, huh? The key is to make it by juicing the fruit fresh, and not roasting it. I tried roasting it, and the result was delicious in its own right, but the texture was very soft and viscous, and it translated to a very thick, smoothie-esque drink. So, I tried juicing it raw, and the result, as you saw, was fantastic. It’s worth mentioning that the rhubarb must be chopped into small pieces before putting it through a juicer; the fruit has very long fibers that will get wrapped around the blades and jam the machine.
So: chop the rhubarb, and juice it. If using a blender, you’ll need cheesecloth to squeeze the liquid out of the pulp. Won’t be ideal, but it should work ok. Take the remaining juice and strain it through a fine sieve. The juice will be frothy, very sour, and smell and taste intensely green and plant-like (for lack of a better word). Add an equal amount of sugar to the juice and stir until it dissolves. You can gently heat the syrup to speed up dissolution, but don’t cook it – it doesn’t need to reduce, and it tastes better with all its freshness intact. Sometimes I pare back a little on the sugar depending on the flavor of the rhubarb and how ripe it is.
That’s the syrup. The drink is as follows:
2oz Ethereal gin (Berkshire Mountain Distillery) — Plymouth works well also
.75oz rhubarb syrup
.75oz fresh lime juice
1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
half an egg white (optional)
If using the egg white, assemble ingredients in an empty shaker and shake it all to emulsify the albumen into the other ingredients. Add ice and shake vigorously, again, and strain into a chilled glass. If opting out of the egg white, simply skip the ‘dry shake’.
The drink with the egg would be called a Rhubarb Fizz, and without, a Rhubarb Gimlet. A semantic difference, but one that bears mentioning for all the sticklers out there.”
Now THAT’S a good bartender. Thanks again Toby for a night I barely remember!