Chris and I got our first CSA box last Thursday, a small bonus box as a thank you for signing up for all three seasons of the Featherstone Farm CSA. Signing up for three seasons means we are heading into nearly eight months of fresh produce! We chose Featherstone because they came highly recommended by friends and they have a drop off site just around the block from our new home. It’s hard to imagine an easier way to stock our home with fresh and local produce!
While the majority of our CSA share is destined to be eaten, the rhubarb we received in Bonus Box #1 ended up being made into a syrup for cocktails and sodas. I started thinking about unexpected cocktail ingredients – like the time I was at Parlour and had a drink made with butternut squash shrub. Are there more tasty ways to drink veggies in cocktail form? Can we destroy all the nutritional goodness of greens by adding them to alcohol? Can we use at least one thing from every CSA box we receive to make a delicious cocktail?
First Round – Rhubarb
Rhubarb is almost cheating because it’s a vegetable the world treats as fruit. Raw, it’s basically inedible. When you cook it with plenty of sugar it ends up bitter yet sweet with a bit of earthy funk that is the perfect counterpart to other early summer fruit, like strawberries.
To make the syrup, I simply simmered chopped rhubarb with water and sugar for about 25 minutes, then strained out the rhubarb. (Recipe) The syrup retained all of the good funk of the rhubarb while cutting much of the stalk’s bitterness.
Chris started with the mild sugar cane funk of cachaça to accentuate the vegetal flavors in the rhubarb. Next up was some lemon juice to give the cocktail more body and then finished with homemade grenadine, hoping to bring some smoky notes to the overall taste.
The final product was smooth on the front of the palate with a hint of dry bitterness at the back of my tongue. The grenadine and lemon juice made it almost taste like a rhubarb lemonade, with the funkiness keeping it from being cloying or childish. The drink had a beautiful pink hue from both the rhubarb and the grenadine and reminded me of the recently blossomed crabapple tree in our new backyard or a Northern Minnesota sunset.
The Rhubarb Sunset
- 1 oz Rhubarb Syrup
- 1/2 oz Grenadine
- 1 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
- 2 oz Cachaça (or Rhum Agricole)
Shake with ice and strain.