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Part of eating seasonally and crafting food is that there are times when what you are eating, or in this case drinking, you have had to wait long enough for it to be ready that you are enjoying the final product long after the raw materials are out of season.

I have reached a state of life, between age, parental status, and fitness goals, that I do not drink far as much as I used to, so when I drink, I tend to have a bourbon with a rock and not something fancy with multiple twists and what not. While I do not appreciate the cocktail scene when included in a restaurant setting, I can appreciate a well crafted cocktail. As much as I can appreciate the cocktail, as I mentioned earlier, my consumption is basic, but I do have a love for a Sunday afternoon soda water and bitters break.

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Having a glut of rhubarb in my possession this Spring, I decided to throw my hat into the ring and take a crack at making bitters. I had read about a small batch bitters producer making rhubarb bitters, but like I have done before, the easiest way for me to come up with a formula for making rhubarb bitters was to find a dependable bitters recipe for orange or cranberry and adapt it. The trick is knowing when to adapt it and when to blow it up. For me, I found that where I started and where I ended up was so vastly different that the recipe was not recognizable.

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After putting together the flavors that I wanted, the hard part started. The wait. I wanted a full, strong infusion, but did not want to wait for a full year, so I oped for a nice four month put up. Over that four months, we had so many hot Sundays where the bitters practically called my name. I resisted though, and when I strained the mixture and shook the bitters into the soda water, I was rewarded.

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Bitters are a mystery to most and those flavors, to me, are mystical. There are not many flavors to which to compare that flavor, so I will do my best. These bitters have a green flavor with the rhubarb and grapefruit rind flavors being most prominent. The secondary flavors are warm and almost botanical. As nice as it was to sit outside and sit the spiked soda water, I cannot help but think that gin with these bitters would be amazing on a hot day.

Rhubarb Bitters

  • Rind of 1 orange
  • Rind of 1 grapefruit
  • 1 cup rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 juniper berry
  • 1 tamarind pod with seeds
  • 4 coriander seeds
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cup vodka

Step one: Mix the ingredients in a large jar and seal it.

Step two: Shake jar every three days for four months.

Step three: Strain out the solids and experiment.

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