Rhubarb has held a special place in my heart since early childhood. We lived in a house next to a river for a short time and there was wild rhubarb on the property. My grandmother would bribe us with cookies to go pick the rhubarb, which she coaxed into the most amazing strawberry rhubarb pie. The strawberries were home-grown and picked ripe, of course. Not at all like the stuff you often find in the stores.

My grandmother played a significant role in my love for food and my appreciation for quality ingredients. The difference in quality you can find in making things from scratch, growing them yourself, getting them locally or organically speaks for itself. It’s a lot more work, but always worth it!

With that in mind, my wife Adrienne and I were excited to develop a seasonal bitters this Spring based on rhubarb. Round after round of concoctions were tinkered, cajoled, tasted, modified and re-tasted. We are very proud of the end result with more than a dozen different ingredients including rhubarb, grapefruit, orange and lime zest, grains of paradise, hibiscus flower and horehound.

Getting the bitterness level right was the most challenging. What tastes far too bitter directly from the bottle turns out to be just right once you mix it into the cocktail. Aside from the flavor, the fragrance definitely reminds you of Spring!

With our Warn Reserve Rhubarb Bitters recipe perfected and bottled, we set out on a mission to find the perfect drink to bring out the complex flavors.

We are so fortunate to live in B-town (Boise)! For better or worse, the area has exploded as the secret has gotten out about this oasis in the desert. As the population has exploded, so too has the craft cocktail scene. The Whiskey Bar, Press and Pony, The Modern Hotel and Bar, and many more fine establishments in B-town have embraced the craft cocktail movement with a fervor that is nothing short of inspiring.

So we joined the Bartenders of Idaho Facebook page, which is just chock-full of local professionals forming an network of talent revolving around the local cocktail scene. We hit the jackpot! We posted our conundrum to the group seeking advice on the best cocktails to make use of our Warn Reserve Rhubarb Bitters and were not disappointed.

Annie Walker Whitehead is a bartender at Playhouse Boise. She was Johnny-on-the-spot with a recommendation for a beet martini, which we promptly took a liking to because of my obsession with beets.

So it was off to the lab (our kitchen) for another round of tinkering. The results speak for themselves. If you love beets, do yourself a favor and follow this link to our interpretation of a springtime beet martini. Thanks Annie!

Next, we received a hot tip from one of our favorite local mixologists at Press and Pony, Kevin Baker. If you haven’t sampled his work, we recommend you drop in and ask him about his creations with molecular gastronomy and red bull (very cool). Kevin informed us that rhubarb plays well with gin and tequila. I happen to be a big fan of reposado tequila, so we are working on a rhubarb and reposado cocktail as we speak. Reposado tequila is tequila that has been aged in oak barrels from 2 to 12 months. We are still tinkering with this recipe but plan to post our findings very soon. Thanks Kevin!