The last rhubarb cocktail for the week is going to be a Rhubarb Aperol Spritz because a) it’s the weekend and b) you can make this as strong as you like by swapping out the soda for a sparkling wine.
All this week I’ve been playing with some rhubarb peppercorn syrup I made and today I wanted something that would play more with citrus notes rather than yesterday’s berries in the Wake Me Up When I’m Famous – Strawberry Rhubarb Smash. Today, rather than focusing on bringing out more of the peppercorn in the simple syrup, I’m matching the flavors with Solerno blood orange liqueur, whiskey and Aperol.
First, I wanted to keep that bright pink color I have from the rhubarb syrup. Second, citrus and whiskey play so well together, I wanted to get rhubarb in on the fun.
Now, although Aperol is a bitter appertif, it is much sweeter than Campari – even with the bitter tones. You could dial down the sweetness of the cocktail by adding some bitters that play into the citrus notes (orange or Meyer lemon bitters) or by adding warming elements (like chili or spicy bitters).
I decided to forgo the bitters to keep the cocktail easy to make and sweeter than I would normally otherwise. And when you build the cocktail, if you’d rather keep to a non-alcoholic topper, like soda water, that’s a great match, but if you want to knock your socks off, top it with a dry sparkling wine. You’ll only need one or two to get you going if you do. Thus the name, That Escalated Quickly.
While I used a rye whiskey (Woodford Reserve) to build this Rhubarb Aperol Spritz, any smooth whiskey will fit the bill, just make sure it’s not overly oaky or peaty. Adding smoke to the mix in this cocktail is not recommended, and a peaty whiskey would overwhelm all the other flavors in the cocktail.
Rhubarb Aperol Spritz – That Escalated Quickly
- 1.5 oz Woodford Reserve Rye Whiskey
- 1 oz Aperol
- ½ oz rhubarb peppercorn simple syrup
- ½ oz Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
- 2 -4 oz soda water or champagne if you’re feeling fancy
- Garnish: dried blood orange wheel rhubarb spirals.
- Combine whiskey, Aperol, simple syrup and blood orange liqueur in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until well-combined. Strain into a champagne flute and top with soda water or your favorite sparkling wine. Made best in sets of two. While a spritz is usually served over ice, I went without this time to make a more elegant weekend cocktail.
- 1 c chopped rhubarb
- 1 c sugar
- 1 c water
- 2 tsp peppercorns, lightly cracked