Fusing tart rhubarb with citrus and spice, rhubarb bitters can add a distinctive depth to cocktails, and making your own batch is as easy as you-know-what. This recipe from New York bartender Greg Seider combines a high-proof alcohol with the crimson-colored stalks, fresh citrus and cinnamon. Seider doesn’t use a typical bittering ingredient, such as gentian, but the combination of citrus peel, rhubarb and cinnamon bark make for a subtly delicious bitterness. Try the bitters in the Bourbon Street and Chet Helms cocktails.
TIPS: When using rhubarb, be sure to only include the pinkish stalks—the leaves are poisonous. Also, Vietnamese cinnamon is sweeter and more pungent than common cinnamon and can be purchased at specialty grocers or online. You may substitute common cinnamon for a woodsier, earthier flavor.
Chop 3/4 lb. of fresh rhubarb roughly into 1/2-inch cubes.
With a channel knife or vegetable peeler, remove the zest from 1 medium-sized navel orange and 1/2 a medium-sized ruby grapefruit, being careful to not include any white pith.
Combine the chopped rhubarb and citrus zest with 1 Vietnamese cinnamon stick, broken into pieces (see tip below) and 12 oz. of grain alcohol (such as Everclear) in a large glass jar and cover. Store the jar in a cool, dark place and shake daily for two weeks.
Strain the ingredients through a fine strainer and funnel into a clean glass bottle.
Funnel 6 oz. of water and 1 oz. of agave nectar into the bottle, secure the lid and shake to combine. Store at room temperature for up to two months.