A good friend of mine had an abundance of rhubarb this year, as she does every year, and therefore I had an abundance of rhubarb too (thank you Erin K.). As rhubarb is often heralded as the "Harbinger of Spring" I thought it only fair to treat this tasty, bitter treat with the utmost respect - which means to drink it.
I had already made rhubarb-cherry crisp, strawberry-rhubarb crisp, rhubarb-strawberry compote, and I froze a few bags of chopped rhubarb for a later date. But inspiration for rhubarb bitters came from an article I read in my new favorite magazine, Imbibe. What follows is a slightly adapted recipe for Rhubarb Bitters, which is part of their recipe for a Charmane's Star (May/June 2011).
I still have a few days before the bitters are fully matured, but I'll be breaking them out for a big weekend BBQ, which will feature a "Bacon Explosion"! More details and photos to come on that, but in the meantime just Google it.
3/4 lb. fresh rhubarb stalks (sliced into 1-inch pieces)
1 cinnamon stick (for a less "earthy" flavor try a Vietnamese cinnamon stick)
Zest of one medium orange
Zest of 1/2 grapefruit (preferably a Ruby Red)
375 ml. Everclear
6 oz. distilled water
1 oz. agave nectar or 1 1/4 ounces of raw sugar
(optional: 5 cloves or one juniper berry, 3-inch tamarind pod with seeds and three coriander seeds)
Combine the rhubarb pieces, cinnamon stick, orange zest, grapefruit zest and Everclear (plus the optional ingredients if using) in a clean quart-size Mason jar and cover. Shake daily for two weeks. Strain and then filter liquid into a new jar and add water and agave nectar or raw sugar. Will keep for up to one year, but you'll probably drink it all before then.
Tip: I really like this zest tool from OXO.