It seems to be a recurring theme that the recipes my husband and I create are dessert based – I’m looking at you Apple Pie and Cherry Bakewell – but damn if I don’t love a good dessert, and sometimes it’s nice to be able to roll it all into a cocktail. Let’s face it, it’s perfect for a lightweight, after dinner treat!
Creating new recipes is always a fun adventure, and we do try to do them regularly. However, there’s a difference between creating a good recipe and creating a good recipe that genuinely tastes like something else that already exists. It becomes all about finding the right balance, more so than with any other recipe on this blog. Not just so that it tastes nice, but so that it tastes right – which really is a bizarre thing to say about a cocktail. I typically have the attitude of ‘If it tastes nice, then who cares?’ when it comes to drinks, but sometimes it pays to be meticulous.
Being a proud Yorkshire lass – with an adopted Lancashire husband, but we won’t talk about that – our household always has at least one Rhubarb based item in it; with its sharp sweetness, what’s not to love about a good ol’ stalk of Rhubarb, regardless of whether it’s forced or regular. It’s an extremely versatile ingredient and in recent years has become more popular in alcoholic drinks. Naturally, this led us to see just what we could actually achieve when we combined our love of rhubarb, dessert and cocktails together – not that we needed an excuse! There was really only ever one option for what to recreate though. If I asked you to think of a Rhubarb based dessert I feel confident saying that at least 75% would reply with the classic Rhubarb Crumble.
And thus, a new challenge was born.
First things first, we had to define what the core flavour points of a Rhubarb Crumble actually were in order for the drink to be identifiable and, therefore successful. The first was – obviously – rhubarb, the second were subtle spices such as cinnamon which you would use in the buttery crumble topping and the third and final crucial flavour point was a vanilla creaminess as a reflection of either the custard or cream that would normally accompany a crumble. Unless you’re one of those heathens that use *shudder* ice cream***.
With our 3 key aspects decided, it was on to the actual mixology. Fair warning, this is a very long post.
Rhubarb Crumble v1:
Bad picture is bad. Sorry!
Ingredients: 1 ½ ounce RumChata, ½ ounce crème de cassis, ½ ounce lemon juice, 1 ounce rhubarb syrup, whipped cream.
The first attempt was pretty simple: RumChata for a creamy texture with wonderful spicing, rhubarb syrup for – what else – the rhubarb, lemon juice and crème de cassis to enhance the fruity flavour even further and just a bit of whipped cream because, hey, why not! Makes sense, right? Pretty solid effort, and logical to boot.
But how did it taste? Well, it was enjoyable but it wasn’t right. Although fruity, it was surprisingly hard to taste any rhubarb in the actual drink, and the lemon juice just about overpowered the entire drink. Again, it’s important to emphasise that the drink was absolutely delicious, but in terms in hitting the brief, it was a failure unfortunately.
On to the next one.
Rhubarb Crumble v2:
Ingredients: 1 ounce RumChata, ½ ounce crème de cassis, ½ ounce citron vodka, 1 ounce rhubarb syrup, whipped cream
Given that our main complaint with the first attempt was the overpowering nature of the lemon juice, it seemed obvious that the first change would be to change it for something else. We still believed that a citric flavour was necessary as it would help uplift the rhubarb, but it became clear that perhaps pure lemon juice wasn’t the answer. So, we substituted it for citron vodka.
Again, this version was wonderful to drink, but it still didn’t give us the feeling of a true rhubarb crumble. Back to the drawing board.
On a slight tangent, how pretty does it look in that glass with the whipped cream? Drink goals, right there.
Rhubarb Crumble v3:
Ingredients: 1 ounce RumChata, ½ ounce advocaat, ½ ounce citron vodka, 1 ½ ounce rhubarb syrup.
So, first things first. No whipped cream. Ho hum. Sad panda. In fact, there will be no more whipped cream in any of the further recipes – that’s not to say you can’t add it though! I would just recommend trying it sans cream first in case it’s creamy enough.
By trading the whipped cream for advocaat it’s made the drink as a whole a lot thicker and the texture was just incredible. If I was to describe the mouthfeel it would be…. well, creamy I guess. Luxurious even, almost like velvet. However, the rhubarb syrup was entirely overwhelmed by the rest of the ingredients, so it just doesn’t taste enough of rhubarb which – as we discovered earlier – is kind of a crucial part of the whole she-bang.
If you want a delicious drink then you absolutely need to make this one, but if you want a true Rhubarb Crumble cocktail, keep on scrolling.
Rhubarb Crumble v4:
Ingredients: 1 ounce white rum, ½ ounce citron vodka, ½ ounce Chambord, ½ ounce double cream, 2 ounces rhubarb syrup.
The crucial difference with this version is the inclusion of white rum instead of RumChata, although you wouldn’t immediately recognise it. It’s a very subtle flavour – indeed, potentially too subtle – that is ultimately dominated by the rhubarb in this version. That being said, removing the RumChata also removes all trace of the buttery spiced element which worked so well in the previous incarnations. Ironic, isn’t it? First there’s not enough rhubarb, now there’s too much – it’s the Goldilocks of cocktails.
Now, if we’re following the fairy tale true to form, it stands to reason that the next version will be perfect.
Rhubarb Crumble v5:
Ingredients: 1 ounce white rum, ½ ounce RumChata, ½ ounce citron vodka, ½ ounce Chambord, 2 ounce rhubarb syrup.
Well, no, not quite. It’s a good cocktail, don’t get me wrong, but it’s still not there. The Rhubarb and general tartness hits the spot, but it’s still missing the crumb flavour (for lack of a better term) despite the inclusion of the RumChata. Only half an ounce of RumChata mind, so in my humble opinion the issue here is once again not enough RumChata.
Although, let’s face it, when is there enough RumChata in life, amirite?
Rhubarb Crumble v6:
Ingredients: 1 ounce white rum, 1 ounce Whitley Neill Rhubarb and Ginger Gin, ½ ounce citron vodka, ½ ounce double cream, 1 ounce rhubarb syrup, dash of lemon juice.
Okay, okay, so you may be wondering exactly why, after stating so definitively that the lack of RumChata was the downfall of the last cocktail, the next version still doesn’t have any RumChata. We decided to try cream for this cocktail and frankly, having both cream and RumChata in a drink would be so far beyond overkill. Truth be told, we really did think we had a winner with this drink – but that was before we tried it. Lord above, for reasons unknown to even the best of us this was an abominable combination and you really, really shouldn’t try this at home unless you particularly enjoy a harsh gin aftertaste to your drinks. It’s strange, out of all the gins on our bar this is easily one of my favourites, but in this cocktail it just tastes awful. It’s like the cream somehow strips the wonderful rhubarb flavour that you would normal taste just to leave you with the gin.
After a few sips and grimaces, it was time to move on to another version.
Rhubarb Crumble v7:
Ingredients: 1 ounce white rum, 1 ounce RumChata, 1 ½ ounce Hortus Rhubarb & Ginger Gin Liqueur, ½ ounce citron vodka, ½ ounce Chambord.
Behold, the triumphant return of RumChata and the removal of the gin element because god knows I don’t think I can stomach any more of it after the last drink. Again, this was a pretty nice drink but still not the perfect Rhubarb Crumble cocktail. At this point, there was a part of me wondering if it’s even possible to make the perfect Rhubarb Crumble with what was available on the bar. But nevertheless, we’re committed and by jove, we were going to make it happen or pass out trying.
Rhubarb Crumble v8 aka THE RHUBARB CRUMBLE:
Ingredients: 1 ounce Hortus Rhubarb & Ginger Gin Liqueur, 1 ounce RumChata, 1 ounce citron vodka, ½ ounce Chambord, ½ ounce rhubarb syrup, dash of lemon juice.
This is it. This is the one. The quintessential Rhubarb Crumble – hallelujah we’ve found it!
There’s layers of flavour here that none of the previous iterations can even touch upon; yes, there’s plenty of rhubarb thanks to the Hortus Gin Liqueur and the syrup, but the Chambord deepens the rhubarb flavour so that it tastes natural and not manufactured. You don’t actually taste any raspberry or citrus, but this is fine as it’s not something you would expect from a Rhubarb Crumble. And, as you may have already noticed, the RumChata once again takes pride of place as a key ingredient of the cocktail so the lovely butter and spiced element is present too. We were somewhat skeptical to use a whole ounce of it, fearing that it might be too much, but it actually rather complimented the depth of rhubarb flavour.
Interestingly enough, the amount of ingredients required to make the perfect Rhubarb Crumble increased up until v7, but when we finally hit the right recipe, it actually decreased back down to 6. This is still more than the first 5 variants, but it just goes to show that sometimes more doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be bad, or even too much.
As far as I’m concerned, this is the perfect Rhubarb Crumble cocktail. No ifs, no buts, no coconuts. In my opinion, there’s no higher praise I can give than to say ‘Yes, this is it”.
So why don’t you try it?
***Before you all grab your pitchforks, I do love ice cream. I just don’t see it as an acceptable accompaniment to a warm dessert. I’ll start running from those pitchforks now.
♦ 1 ounce Hortus Rhubarb & Ginger Gin Liqueur
♦ 1 ounce RumChata
♦ 1 ounce citron vodka
♦ ½ ounce Chambord
♦ ½ ounce rhubarb syrup
Dash of lemon juice
Shake all the ingredients together and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Feel free to add a cocktail cherry or whipped cream on top!