This recipe was previously published on Sustaining Life.
I’ve never been a huge fan of vodka. It’s generally flavorless and the cheap stuff reminds me too much of disgustingly drunken college parties. Isn’t it incredible how our tastes change over the years? I looked back the other day to realize that it was less than a decade ago that I would readily take a swig of any kind of liquor straight from the bottle. Nowadays I’m hardly into drinking (unless it’s natural wine or sour beer, then I’m all in) and am more likely to order a kombucha than a cocktail whilst out at bars.
This is all to say that when I heard about Marble Distilling Co, I was surprisingly enamored with the idea of their vodka. Pure Colorado river water filtered by marble, combined with local Colorado mountain grains? I was immediately whisked away to a peaceful lodge by a rushing river, with windows open wide to clear blue skies and fresh mountain air. This is precisely the scene that plays in my mind when I taste the sustainably made vodka by Marble. It has a smoothness and a vanilla-sweet softness that evokes the serenity of water running over stone.
I paired this soft and sweet flavor with something tart and punchy: rhubarb. I love nothing more than contradictions when it comes to warm weather beverages – sweet balanced by spicy, mellow notes conspiring with sour ones. Rhubarb’s tangy taste is softened by being steeped in sugar and turned to syrup, a confection that I love to make each spring in anticipation of entertaining friends on our Brooklyn rooftop. I adore the tiny sweet and sour bubbles that arrive after a few days of steeping the syrup – the rhubarb ferments ever so slightly, creating a more complex flavor and that ever-lovely effervescence. Combined with sour notes of lime and grounded in mint’s cool herbaceous-ness, there’s nothing more perfect for enjoying in the sun on a summer afternoon. I just wish I were dipping my toes into Colorado’s Crystal River with this cocktail in hand…
Note: The prep time includes time for the rhubarb syrup to steep. (Allow a few hours. For stronger flavor, all syrup to ferment for a few days.)
Rooftop Rhubarb Cocktail With Sustainable Vodka & Homemade Syrup
- For the rhubarb syrup:
- 6 stalks rhubarb
- 1/2 cup sugar (I use raw/turbinado sugar for the flavor)
- For the cocktail:
- 1.5 oz Marble Distilling Co’s 80 Proof Vodka (can be subbed with another smooth vodka and would also be delicious with gin)
- 1.5 oz rhubarb syrup
- 1 oz lime juice
- 2 oz sparkling water (I use Topo Chico or mineral water for the softer bubbles and taste)
- a few pieces of rhubarb from making syrup
- mint for muddling and garnish
- strips of raw rhubarb for garnish
1. Make rhubarb syrup a few hours or a few days beforehand. Wash and chop rhubarb stalks into small slices. Place in a glass jar, cover in sugar and let sit. Shake the jar occasionally so that sugar is commingling with the rhubarb. Once all sugar is melted into syrup it is ready to strain and use. I like to wait an extra 2 or 3 days, letting the rhubarb and syrup ferment together while sitting out on the counter or in the refrigerator if it’s especially hot out.
2. Once syrup is ready, muddle a few leaves of mint in the bottom of each glass. Add a spoonful of rhubarb bits left over from making syrup. If you’d like to garnish with raw rhubarb strips, coil them up and place them so that they stick to the sides of the glass. Then place ice cubes in the cocktail glasses.
3. Mix vodka, rhubarb syrup and lime in a cocktail shaker. Add this to each glass before pouring sparkling water over top.
4. Add a sprig of mint and a coil of rhubarb to garnish and serve. This drink is best enjoyed when sipped from a reusable straw.
Also by Faye: Chocolate Hazelnut Torte
Related: Refreshing Moscow Mule
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Photos: Faye Lessler