I was recently invited to the Hard Rock Café in Manchester’s Printworks, to attend a cocktail launch party with a twist; and I say that quite literally, as I would be sipping from numerous glasses garnished with sweet, sticky twists of candied rhubarb.
I love rhubarb. Granted, for many, it is an acquired taste, but blended into a variety of delectable drinks by the very talented mixologist, Nathan Larkin, even those with the strongest of dislikes for the pink stuff may very well be swayed.
What really grabbed my attention the most, was the location in which this rhubarb was sourced; which, as it turned out, was directly above my head. Incredibly, and unbeknown to the vast majority of people chowing down on their tasty burgers, getting comfortable with their popcorn or preparing for a big night out, the top of the Printworks is actually home to a living roof garden.
From the garden to our glasses, the rhubarb was crafted into three cocktails; my personal favourite being the rhubarb crumble cocktail, which successfully managed to incorporate all of the rhubarb flavours physically possible; including homemade rhubarb syrup, rhubarb bitters and rhubarb liqueur; all topped off with a digestive biscuit rim and vanilla cream.
Also on offer was a crisp and refreshing gin and tonic twist, embellished with rhubarb and topped with foam and a gin and rhubarb old fashioned, complete with a classy sprig of lemon peel and a cinnamon stick.
So why should you get yourself down to the Hard Rock Café in the Printworks? Well, firstly, you are showing your support for locally grown, sustainably sourced ingredients, cultivated with genuine care and passion and secondly, as of Monday 21 November, £1 from the sale of each drink will be donated to Manchester Cathedral’s Volunteer Programme.
In the spirit of all things rhubarb, I was inspired to try my hand at my own recipe, rhubarb ice cubes – perfect for cocktails and smoothies. All I did was chop up a heap of rhubarb and simmer in water with an added sweetener (I used a pinch of brown sugar and some maple syrup) until mushy. I then transferred the pink mush into an ice cube tray and left to freeze. Voilà!