The Piquant: a Rhubarb Gin Cocktail with black pepper and grapefruit
I spent weeks at the tail end of last summer trying to come up with a homemade ‘tonic’ but was never satisfied with the results. After reading of inadvertent quinine overdoses I attempted a formula using other bitter roots ultimately deciding to leave it to the experts.
And then I all but abandoned recipefiction because of work and winter and feeling creatively stuck, the website- much like me- just isn’t exactly what I imagined it would be. I miss writing stories, actually crave it, and so avoid it lest I end up satisfied. But now that we have moved (the other excuse, so tempting to use) I hope to move on.
It is always easiest to start with a cocktail. Rhubarb is in season and seemed appropriate for both it’s flavor profile and because the word also can mean the indistinct noise of a crowd and it reminds me of family and picnics and poetry. Imagine my surprise when this on the fly mixture of spring rhubarb, black pepper, grapefruit, and gin tasted more pleasantly tonic like than all my arduous extractions and infusions from last year.
Pleasantly tart with just a little spice and a punch of citrus this is one of those dangerous drinks that goes down so sweet and easy on a sultry humid day. It is also delightful, if just a bit less complex, if you omit the gin and alternate cocktail/mocktail until all the chores are done.
- 2 ounces black pepper rhubarb simple syrup (see instruction below)
- 2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
- 2 ounces gin (I used Hendrick's Gin for its floral and citrus notes)
- Four to six ounces fizzy water of choice
- Ice to taste
- Prepare simple syrup by combining one cup chopped rhubarb, one teaspoon roughly cracked black peppercorns, one cup sugar and 1½ cups water in a small
sauce pan. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes until rhubarb has softened and syrup has just begun to thicken. Strain through a fine sieve, pressing as much juice as possible from the pulp. Cover and allow to cool before using. Can be stored for several weeks in the refrigerator. Makes enough for 4-5 drinks.
- Combine cooled simple syrup, juice, and gin in a 12-14 ounce glass. Add a few cubes of ice and top with fizzy water. Stir to combine before drinking.