I’m still on my rhubarb kick, so I’m showing off the vibrant color today in a Strawberry Rhubarb Smash. Two days after making the rhubarb peppercorn syrup I’m still obsessed with it and it’s transformation. It’s slowly developing more and more of the rhubarb flavor and the peppercorn is subsiding (much to my dismay), but I couldn’t think of a better match than strawberry, both to enhance the color but also to increase the tartness in the simple syrup.
Yesterday I started with a Rhubarb Peppercorn Old Fashioned if you want to check out another use for this rhubarb peppercorn syrup.
A traditional smash consists of whiskey, lemon, mint and a sweetner – usually simple or honey simple, but in this case, we’ll use the rhubarb peppercorn simple syrup I’ll let you chose your base – either a tequila/mezcal spirit split or your favorite whiskey. I’ll tell you now the tequila/mezcal matches perfectly with the vegetal notes you get from the rhubarb simple syrup.
If, like me, you want a little more peppercorn to the flavor you’ll have two choices, add some lightly cracked peppercorns to the shaker before you muddle, or add a half barspoon or so of peppercorn tincture.
In this case, I made a peppercorn tincture because I didn’t have enough of the peppercorn in the flavor from the first batch I made. To make the tincture, I put 3 tablespoons of peppercorns in a small jar and covered them with two ounces of vodka. It was good after 24 hours, but excellent (and dark) after 48. When flavored to your preference, simply strain out the peppercorns and store the tincture in a the cupboard. It’s something stored best in a small bottle with a dropped so you can use it like bitters in your cocktails.
However, in this cocktail, with the smoke from the mezcal, you’ve got to add a good bit of the peppercorn tincture to be discernable over the smokiness of the spirit. But, as always, a cocktail should be adjusted to your own palate. Taste testing throughout the process is highly encouraged.
Back to the Smash
One thing about the smash is that if you’re adding mint to the muddle, be sure you muddle the lemon and strawberry first (and well) before adding the mint so you don’t macerate the mint. Work the mint too much and it turns bitter.
So get out a bit of lemon, your rhubarb peppercorn syrup, some strawberries, a bit of mint and you’re ready to go. And if you can’t choose between tequila and whiskey as the spirit base, well, you’ll have to make two. But that’s OK. You’ve got enough rhubarb syrup for it.
Strawberry Rhubarb Smash – Wake Me Up When I’m Famous
- 2 oz whiskey OR split base of tequila and mezcal
- 1 oz rhubarb peppercorn simple syrup
- ¼ lemon chopped in four pieces
- 4 medium strawberries chopped
- 4 mint leaves
- 4 peppercorns optional
- Garnish: strawberries mint, lemon wheel
- Combine simple syrup, strawberries, lemon and peppercorn in a shaker and muddle well. Add mint and muddle a few more times. Add the spirit and fill with ice. Shake well, until the outside of the shaker is hard to hold. Double strain into a rocks glass with ice and garnish with a lemon wheel, a little mint and some fresh strawberries if you like.
- 2 c chopped rhubarb
- 1 c sugar
- 1 c water
- 2 tsp peppercorns, lightly cracked