Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Improved Cynarata; Or, Thank You Mr. Fee

I didn't meet Joe Fee, of Fee Brothers Bitters, until the second to last day of Tales of the Cocktail. Tall and lanky, wearing a safari hat and looking like a scout leader, he was standing outside the Hotel Monteleone. I had heard for a couple days that he had a stock of bottles of his new Rhubarb Bitters and was handing them out. I buttonholed him only to find out he had given his last bottle away. Curses!

Did I give up? No! I took him card and contacted him upon getting home. Yesterday the Rhubarb Bitters came through the mail. At first glance, the product sounds pretty silly. Do we really need Rhubarb bitters? But it doesn't take long to figure out that rhubarb's natural combination of sweet and tart flavors is a natural for cocktails.

Tasted on its own, the bitters have a nice, slightly spicy flavor, with the rhubarb up front and some cloves and other dark flavors in the back. But I did not sense a great deal of complexity, so I was skeptical. Until I tried them in a drink. I just happened to be making myself one of my refreshing Cynaratas just after I tested the bitters. I looked at the drink, I looked at the bitters, and before thinking to much, I shook a dash of the rhubarb stuff into the drink.

Eureka! The Cynarata, as refreshing as it was, was now every better. A new and complimentary layer of flavor had been introduced. The bitters married perfectly with the various flavors in the Cynar. And no wonder! One of the 13 herbs and plants used to make Cynar is, yes, rhubarb! (This, I just discovered.)

So here's the new recipe for a Cynarata:

3/4 oz. Cynar
4 1/2 oz. sparkling limon soda (Rieme Sparkling Limonade, if you can find it)
A dash of Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters

Mix ingredients with ice in a tall glass. Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.

I feel, perhaps, after encountering so many ridiculously complicated drink at Tales—involving infused this and that, and ingredients that you must make at home, and take the better part of a school year—that this drink must seem incredibly simple-minded. But scoff not! It's delish.

So, thank you Mr. Fee! Your product has perfected my drink.


Unknown said...

This sounds great. Is the Rieme like that Lorina/Efferve sparkling lemonade?

I just picked up some of the rhubarb bitters, and am thrilled with them. My first experiment, though, went more for the strawberry-rhubarb pairing. Can't wait to try this stuff in more things.

Robert Simonson, "Our Man in the Liquor-Soaked Trenches"-New York Times. said...

Yes, the Rieme is just like the Lorina. Both will work.

Kaiser Penguin said...

This is so massively exciting, I cannot wait to try it.