The minute I saw this drink in the April issue of Bon Appétit I knew I had to make it. There is something about rhubarb that gets me fired up, maybe because it is a harbinger of spring. I chose to make a rhubarb simple syrup as opposed to a rhubarb purée as per the original recipe to keep it a bit lighter. I can't help but wish the creators of the drink, Outerlands of San Francisco, had come up with a more enticing name for the cocktail (Ruby Fen or Pink Gem?), but that is splitting hairs because the end result is a great balance of sweet/sour and herbal goodness. Unlike the original recipe, I made the drink for individual servings, save for the vermouth and simple syrup, which I followed as per the original. If you want to make this drink for a group of 8 or more, use the above link.
Rhubarb-Fennel Gin Cocktail
1/4 fennel bulb, untrimmed, coarsely chopped
1 375-ml bottle dry vermouth (preferably Dolin)
1 large rhubarb stalk, thinly sliced, plus a shaved strip for garnish
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 ounces fresh lemon juice
3/4 ounce gin (preferably Fords)
In a large glass container, combine fennel and vermouth (save vermouth bottle). Cover and chill for two days. Strain vermouth through a fine-mesh sieve back into bottle. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring rhubarb, sugar, and 1/2 cup water to a low simmer. Cook until mixture is pink and slightly syrupy, 15 minutes. Allow to cool, then strain the simple syrup into a glass container and refrigerate (to make a rhubarb purée, see link above). In a shaker filled with ice, combine gin, 1 1/2 ounces infused vermouth, 1 ounce of rhubarb simple syrup, and lemon juice. Shake well for 30 seconds and strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass; garnish with shaved rhubarb. (Serves 1)
Do Ahead: Vermouth can be infused and rhubarb simple syrup can be made one week in advance; cover each separately and chill.