Cocktail of the Month: The Rhubarb Bee's Knees
Homemade rhubarb bitters and honey syrup are the keys to this Springtime libation.
The Rhubarb Bee's Knees
Created by Erik Chapman (the bespectacled barman below)
2 ounces Hedge Trimmer Gin
(substitute Plymouth Gin, if unavailable)
½ ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
½ ounce honey syrup
4 dashes rhubarb bitters
Lemon wheel, for garnish
Rhubarb strip, for garnish
Combine the gin, lemon juice, honey syrup, rhubarb bitters and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake the contents vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with a lemon wheel and small strip of rhubarb.
To make the honey syrup:
Combine equal parts honey and water in a saucepan. Heat until thoroughly mixed. Cool and refrigerate. The syrup will be good for up to six months.
To make the rhubarb bitters:
16 ounces neutral grain spirit (substitute Everclear or the highest-proof vodka available)
3 stalks fresh rhubarb
1 tablespoon dried juniper berries
1 tablespoon cassia bark
1 tablespoon dried coriander
Rinds from 2 oranges
Combine the grain spirit, rhubarb, juniper, cassia, coriander and orange peel in a large glass mason jar. Seal and let sit for at least two weeks. Once steeped and thoroughly rested, strain, bottle and refrigerate. The bitters should be good for a year.
About the Mixologist: Erik Chapman
Bar Manager and head distiller at Seattle’s Sun Liquor Lounge and Sun Liquor Distillery
This bartender believes in making cocktails from scratch—starting with the spirits. Located in Seattle’s trendy Capitol Hill area, Sun Liquor Lounge is the quintessential small neighborhood bar.
“There are no servers,” says long-time bar manager Erik Chapman. “There’s no food. All of the concentration is on the drinks and hospitality.”
Sun Liquor Lounge is best known for its focus on super-fresh ingredients. Chapman and his staff squeeze juice and make their own syrups, bitters and shrubs.
Chapman is also head distiller at nearby Sun Liquor Distillery, giving him the ultimate level of control over the booze he puts in the glass.
Gin is the main spirit at the distillery, where Chapman crafts both a London dry style, called Hedge Trimmer, and the Navy-strength and extremely powerful, high-proof Gun Club.
“They are made from American grain, but I would not say that they are American-style gins,” Chapman says. “A lot of American-style gins tend to be a little out there—which is fine—but we wanted something that was both very mixable and very palatable.”
Chapman says the many hats he wears keep him busy.
“Sometimes it’s a seven-day-a-week job,” he admits, “but I love what I do.”