Pure Spirits: Nardini Rabarbaro & The Hooker Cocktail

And off we go with a new article from a series about Italian bitter liqueurs. I have already written about Amari in general and delivered some in-depth information about that particular spirit type in the course of my review of the Nardini Fernet. So today, I can deal with a very special and very attractive species among the Amaros: a Rabarbaro. (provided test product)*

In fact I’m talking about the Nardini Rabarbaro because here, too, there is not just one manufacturer on the market, but several Italian traditional companies which also produce this type of Amaro (with Zucca being one of the more famous examples). You can also find some background information about Nardini in the above linked article, which is why I can immediately start answering an essential question: What actually is a Rabarbaro?

The answer is relatively simple: it is an Amaro, which was (besides other ingredients) produced with a significant proportion of rhubarb. Among other ingredients, rhubarb is usually added to alcohol and thereby used as an infusion for some time. Finally, the finished Rabarbaro is bottled at the desired drinking strength (of course, such a bitter liqueur also includes sugar). Exactly prescribed proportions or a specifically outlined legal framework does not exist according to Rabarbaros (at least that is what I believe to know). In addition, one should not be tempted by the name Rabarbaro to think of its taste being like freshly cut rhubarb or even acidic. It rather allows the rhubarb root to have a unique, earthy-fruity impact on the Amaro, which is indeed very special and delivers the typical character that makes up this liqueur. Rhubarb roots are also a traditional medicinal herb, which is hardly surprising given the history of the Amari.

For the Nardini Rabarbaro, Chinese rhubarb is used; while it is bottled at an ABV of 19%. In addition to natural aroma, sugar caramel color is also used as a colorant.

Tasting Notes:

Aroma: An earthy scent triggers impressions of moist forest soil, but there is also a recognizable sweetness, reminiscent of sugar beet syrup. A bouquet of roots and herbs blends into subtle associations of dark, toasted bread.

Taste: Spicy and aromatic with an earthy and herbal sweetness, I really appreciate this Rabarbaro. The bitterness of this liqueur is less pronounced than in some other Amari, but it nonetheless provides a beautiful depth, which contributes to the overall picture. Hints of orange shine through.

Finish: Spicy and bitter with sweet orange notes

In terms of cocktails, I opted for the Hooker. What sounds like a drink that may be a tribute to a prostitute is actually a drink in honor of blues legend John Lee Hooker, conceived by Jamie Boudreau from the Canon bar in Seattle. The Hooker is an incredibly complex and great cocktail, usually made with bourbon, Averna and dark Belgian beer. In my variation, however, I went for a Rye Whiskey, a slightly increased share of Nardini Rabarbaro replaces the Averna and I exchanged the Belgian beer for a powerful Russian Imperial Stout: the wonderful Brew Dog Cocoa Psycho. My variant is therefore a bit richer with distinct chocolate and roasted tones – taste characteristics that harmonize beautifully with the Nardini Rabarbaro.

Recipe “Hooker” (slightly modified version):

3 cl Rye whiskey
2 cl Nardini Rabarbaro
0.5 cl Lagavulin 8 years
1.25 cl orange juice
0.5 cl sugar syrup
3 Dashe’s The Bitter Truth Bogart’s Bitters
2 Dashe’s The Bitter Truth Chocolate Bitters
½ egg white

Brewdog Cocoa Psycho Russian Imperial Stout (or another Imperial Stout)

Preparation: Add all ingredients except the Imperial Stout in a shaker and do “dry shake” without any ice first. Then add ice cubes and vigorously shake again and strain into the pre-chilled glass. Gently pour imperial stout on top and gently stir.

Glass: Coupette

Garnish: none

Buying sources: At specialized retailers or online

*The fact that this product has been sent to me free of charge for editorial purposes does not – in any way – imply any influence on the content of this article or my rating. On the contrary, it is always an indispensable condition for me to be able to review without any external influence.

 

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