Gin is not a favorite liquor of mine and not because I had a bad experience when I was younger. I never liked how it smelled or tasted. However, all that changed last year when we were at the farmers’ market. Steinhart Distillery had a table set up displaying their vodka and gin. I was asked if I wanted to try their gin. My facial expression gave me away. The man behind the table started to talk about the botanicals in their gin and that peaked my interest. On the first sniff, juniper berries grabbed my nose followed by a slight hint of pine and a small sip of the gin hadn’t been at all what I had remembered. I was intrigued as was Mr. S. For him, it was a bad experience in his younger days but after sampling he said we should buy a bottle. Up until that point, I was a fan of vodka with lime and tonic water. So, for the first time in many years, I made the highball cocktail. I was delighted!
According to wikipedia, the G&T cocktail was introduced by the army of the British East India Company in India in the 1700s. Malaria was a problem in tropical areas and a doctor discovered that quinine could help treat and prevent the disease. It was mixed with tonic water but the taste was bitter. Later on British officers mixed it with water, sugar, lime and gin. Gin and tonic (aka G-and-T) went from a bitter medicinal tipple in the tropics to being a favourite at British clubs and bars by World War I. In the ’70s and ’80s, gin was almost forgotten as it went out of fashion when vodka began to be more popular. Gin and tonic is now back. Nova Scotia has seen a resurgance in local distilleries popping up touting artisanal gins and vodkas. About 2 months ago Steinhart Distellery was selling their limited edition of rhubarb gin. Since we were now fans of their gin, I wanted to try their rhubarb version. The scent of rhubarb was clearly evident and I already had in mind how I would serve it. I also wanted to dabble in making my own, limited version. Cheers!
1 kg. rhubarb, washed and cut into 1-inch chunks
400g white sugar
In a large jar add rhubarb and sugar.
Shake or use a spoon to coat sugar over rhubarb. Cover and leave overnight.
The sugar will have dissolved leaving you with a glorious pink syrup. Add gin, give it a stir and cover again. Store in a cool, dark place and leave for a month before making your first drink.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: Make sure to use pink or red rhubarb stalks as the green ones will be bitter and the gin won’t look as pink. Enjoy!