I know, I know. Brown butter seems like kind of a weird cocktail ingredient. I guess it is. But it's still a great one. Just like adding cream or any other fat to a drink, brown butter gives your cocktails richness and a silky texture. And while it would be equally at home in a fall drink with cinnamon and whiskey, it also balances nicely with tart spring ingredients. Like rhubarb.
Rhubarb has a relatively short season, so when it finally appears in stores, make sure you grab some before it's gone. The firm pink stalks have a texture somewhat similar to celery, but are tart and acidic, which means it's often combined with sugar to even it out.
I wanted to keep this syrup fairly tart, so I skipped the traditional strawberry-rhubarb combination and went instead for Pink Lady apples, which gave it a bit of roundness but maintained the brightness I was looking for. The ginger was a last-second addition; it was sitting on my counter as I set my syrup on the stove, and it seemed like a crime to not add it. It was a good instinct, because the little bit of spice in the background is perfect.
These cocktails are to bring to a Mother's Day party, and since my own mother isn't much for spirits, I made this cocktail with just sparkling wine. I went for prosecco because it's crisp and clean and not too rich—you get plenty of that from the brown butter. I think the syrup would be perfect with gin, though, and if there's any left over from the party, I know exactly where it's going to go...
Rhubarb-Apple-Brown Butter Sparkling Cocktail
- .5 - .75 oz rhubarb-apple-brown butter syrup (recipe below)
- .25 oz lemon juice
- Sparkling wine
- Edible flowers for garnish (optional)
Add syrup and lemon juice to your glass and stir briefly. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with a flower.
Rhubarb-Apple-Brown Butter Syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 3 large stalks rhubarb
- 1 medium apple
- 3 quarter-inch slices ginger
- 1/2 cup butter
Combine all ingredients in a pot over medium-high heat until the water boils. Turn heat down to low and simmer for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain and set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat butter over medium-low heat until it turns golden brown and smells nutty. (Some sediment will form at the bottom of the pan.) Remove from heat and transfer to a heatproof bowl. Stir in rhubarb-apple syrup and set in the fridge. Once the butter solidifies on top, you can skim it off and use it for whatever you want. (My plan is waffles.)
Note: You can run the brown butter syrup through a fine strainer if you want to remove any sediment and butter shards (which you can see floating on top of my cocktails.) Obviously I didn't do this. It doesn't affect the taste either way.
Sometimes people are nice enough to send me things, like this prosecco from Santa Margherita. All opinions and ingredient decisions are still my own.