Rhubarb Rose Ramos Gin, Minus the Fizz. Lessons in Forgetfulness.

I can generally behave myself on beer, and wine if there isn’t bubbles involved.  Gin, however, lends an air of invincibility.  Invincibility followed by waves of death in the morning.  One particularly infamous New Year’s Eve, after drinking a bottle of champagne, I ushered out the evening with an extra dry gin martini.

Except the bar was out of olives and cocktail glasses, so technically I drank a glass of gin.  What happened next is what one might call a broach, in sailing terms.  I quickly found myself in danger of capsizing, crisscrossing to “Come Fly with Me” and clinging to anything semi-stationary.

Some 2 AM scrambled eggs and cheese helped.  But I’ve certainly had Saturday mornings that were more pleasant. I suppose we shouldn’t cast champagne as innocent in this tale, but that is not the point of the story.

I mention all of this because I drank a gin fizz on Friday night.  A rhubarb Ramos gin fizz.  Except I forgot to add soda water.  So technically it was a rhubarb Ramos gin.  No matter.  I’m prone to a jettison of classic cocktail elements.

I followed it with pasta carbonara.  Partly because I had a leftover yolk to use.  And partly because, in my twenties, I may have formed an unbreakable bond between gin and eggs.  Not to say things got all slant-y Sinatra.  For one, I know the limits of my thirty-something liver.  For two, I was in my bathrobe.

This might be my new favorite way to drink gin (the bathrobe is optional, but encouraged).  I had to share it, immediately.  It's frothy, and tart, and behaves a bit like a well-balanced spring creamsicle.  Which I say with trepidation, because I don’t want to give the impression we’ve sugarcoated a classic. 

It is flower petal pink, for certain.  But also a breath of fresh air in the booze department.  Dare I say something even a gin-hater could love.  Which usually turns gin-lovers off, but I assure this cocktail will win most rational—and nearly all irrational—drinkers over. 

Despite the name, and its appearance, it’s not incredibly difficult to make.  It just doesn’t take well to impulse.  You’ll need cold rhubarb syrup, for one.  And also the cocktail accoutrement of a well-seasoned drinker.  But the result is something a Bogart heroine could love.

Sure, a martini still has its place.  But mostly when I want to hate myself in the morning.

Rhubarb Rose Ramos Gin Fizz
Adapted from Food52


for the rhubarb syrup

1 pound rhubarb stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup sugar
1-inch piece of peeled ginger root
pinch of salt

for the cocktail

2 ounces gin
½ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce lime juice
2 ounces rhubarb syrup
1 ounce half and half
2 drops of rose water
1 egg white


In a medium saucepan, place the rhubarb pieces, sugar, ginger, salt, and 2 cups of water.  Simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally.  (Reduce the heat if the liquid comes to a vigorous boil.)  Cook about 35 minutes, or until the liquid reduces to slightly more than half and turns deep pink.  Strain out the rhubarb pulp using a mesh strainer; save for another use.  Chill the syrup.

In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.  Add 4 or 5 ice cubes and shake for another 30 seconds.  Strain into a cocktail glass.

Makes 1 cocktail

-As is de rigueur with gin fizzes, the recipe originally called for soda water.  Which is optional here.  I’d start with an ounce, if you are adding it.  I should also note I used half and half in place of heavy cream (simply because I always have it for my coffee).  I suspect this helped to cut down on the thickness of the drink a bit, much like the soda water would.  (Add the soda water after you shake and strain the cocktail.)

-Gin fizz recipes often call for orange blossom water.  This one uses rose instead, which lends a subtle, soft perfume that I absolutely loved. 

-The rhubarb pulp would be great on top of yogurt.  


A Grand Marnier Chocolate Bundt with Miso Caramel Glaze. Sometimes, it Just Ain't Pretty.

It is a fact of life that you’ll eventually meet someone who claims to feel indifferent about cake. It’s not that I immediately distrust such a person, but it increases the likelihood the individual might treat fun like it’s a forest fire.  Or have the soul of a dictator.  They might save smiling for special occasions and say “fine” a lot. And they probably aren’t going to make a cake on your birthday. 

Suffice to say, consider it a warning sign.

I mention this because a very good friend of mine recently turned the big three-O.  It has been a long time since I’ve witnessed the kind of joy that a chocolate cake and three little yellow candles can bring.  Too long.

Generally speaking, cake elicits a special kind of emotion.  It is unmarred by pain and untethers pessimism.  It brings you back to a time when a problem could be solved by rainbow sprinkles. This makes it non-debatable when it comes to significant life moments.

So when I asked my dear friend, David, what kind he would like for his birthday, he didn’t even blink before replying: chocolate. The man is thirty and knows what he wants.

He also claps his hands at the sight of a bundt.  Even if it is unmolded a bit too early and it takes on a lumpy Quasimodo-esque vibe. It is hard not to love a person like this.

So, technically, I don’t have sprinkles for you today.  But I’d like to gamble on a grownup equivalent involving salty miso caramel glaze.  I’ve written about it here.  And I think at the time I grossly undersold it.  You’ll want to pour it over the cake only after it cools slightly, because it'll eventually get thick and sticky and, despite all its glory, might behave badly if you are trying to build drama with a glazed bundt.

Not that the cake needs any additional drama, mind you.  It contains an entire cup of Grand Marnier.  The original called for bourbon.  Which would have been lovely too, but the bottle was empty due to my talent of acquiring friends with a fondness for after dinner whiskey drinking.  Plus, turning thirty just calls for fancy. 

As for the cake itself, it’s the type you can break off in husky, moist hunks.  If you are also a partisan cake person, you know the kind.  And you won’t be disappointed.

So today I am a lady with a milestone birthday bundt.  One who is very fortunate to have a clatter of cake pans, a collection of solid recipes, and an incredible group of friends. 

People who laugh when you make jokes about the dangers of unbundting too early.  People who are so much more than “fine.” Who appreciate birthday cakes.  And who know what flavor they want, without hesitation.

Grand Marnier Chocolate Bundt with Miso Caramel Glaze
Adapted from Orangette and originally Maida Heatter


5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
¼ cup instant espresso powder
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup Grand Marnier (or your favorite whiskey)
½ tsp kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (plus more for the pan)
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted (plus more for the pan)

Click here for the miso caramel glaze ingredients and instructions.


Set the oven to 325 degrees.  Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and place the chocolate in the bowl; stir occasionally until melted; set aside. Turn the burner back up and make sure there is more than 1 cup water inside; bring to boil.

Place the espresso and cocoa powder in a measuring cup and fill to the 1 cup line with boiling water.  Stir until the powders dissolve.  Pour into a small bowl and add in the liquor and salt; set aside. (You won’t need the bowl if you have a large measuring cup.)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the butter and beat until fluffy; add sugar and beat until well combined.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Add in the vanilla, baking soda, and melted chocolate.  Scrape down the sides with a spatula.

With the mixer on low speed, beat in a third of the liquor mixture.  When fully incorporated, add half the flour and then another third of the liquor.  When the liquor is incorporated, add in remaining flour and then remaining liquor.  Mix until fully combined, taking care not to overmix.

Butter and flour a bundt pan; tap out the excess flour.  Pour in the batter and smooth out the top.  Bake for about 70 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle.

Transfer the cake to a wire rack and allow to cool for 20 to 30 minutes.  Place the plate you plan to use to serve the cake on top and gently flip the pan to unmold the cake.  (It might help to give the bundt a few thwaps on the countertop to loosen.)

Cool completely.  When you are ready to glaze the cake, prepare the miso caramel as directed here.  Let cool slightly (about 10 to 15 minutes).  Pour over the top of the cake.  You will use most of the caramel, but will likely have a little leftover, which you can serve on the side.

-The cake will be a boozier version of itself with the whiskey. (Just like we were with David on his 30th.)

-You can also drizzle a little more booze over the top as it is cooling.  Maybe a tablespoon or so?

-Photo credit goes to my dear, talented friend Justin Burke-Samson.  You should absolutely check him out ASAP with his pal Stephanie Cmar doing whimsical, line-forming pastry. (I mean, come on: poptarts and donuts!)


Rye Cacao Nib Shortbreads. Plus, Don’t Be a Kimono-Wearing Earthworm.

In the “How Not to be an Earthworm” chapter of M.F.K. Fisher’s 1942 book, How to Cook a Wolf, she notes,  A useful thing to have on your shelf is a supply of gingersnaps or vanilla wafers.

Fisher was advising on the economical gastronomy of blackout rooms and emergency rations. But this struck a cord. The delicate nature of a thin, crisp cookie awards certain pleasures during most un-delicate situations. 

Useful advice.  I’ve been experiencing some residual effects of a very unromantic breakup and lease break.  Personal unpleasantries. To be clear, nowhere near wartime.  But psychological shrapnel nonetheless. 

I tend to recognize a hovering emotional raincloud when I start reflexive leisurewear shopping.  I’m drawn to glorified robes and wide legged pants.  Garments that I will probably try to pass off as “bohemian” on the street.

And so I found solace in Fisher’s plucky chapter on how to make the best of times in the worst of times.  I minded her warning against becoming a metaphorical earthworm.  Took note of her practical cookie employment.  And decided to dial down on the kimonos. 

Thus the protection today comes in the form of a steady supply of wispy shortbreads.  Of which I suggest a healthy therapeutic dose. 

The rounds are fairly mildly flavored, despite any preconceptions about rye.  It brings similar characteristics that whole wheat would, but I’d argue rye is slightly sturdier.  Pleasantly rustic.  And a fine partner for the cacao nibs, which have lingering whispers of coffee.  All of this is bound by butter and turns toffee-like after a few days.

My advice is to squirrel some away in your freezer.  They get better with age.  I also suggest you listen to Fisher with whatever battles you’re facing.  Cookies or no cookies.  She closes out her chapter by saying:

“Use as many fresh things as you can, always, and then trust to luck and your blackout cupboard and what you have decided, inside yourself, about the dignity of man.”

Rye Cacao Nib Shortbreads
Adapted from Orangette and Alice Medrich


1 cup rye flour
1 cup all-purpose (or 1 scant cup whole wheat pastry flour)-see note
1 tsp cinnamon
1¾ sticks (14 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup chocolate covered cacao nibs


Sift the two flours and the cinnamon over a medium bowl.  In the bowl of a kitchen stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla until smooth and creamy (but not overly fluffy), about 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides with a spatula and then mix in the cacao nibs.

With the mixer on low, add in the flour and then stir with the spatula until just incorporated.  Place the mound of dough onto plastic wrap and shape into a 12 x 2-inch log.  Wrap up the log and smooth out any uneven areas so it is fairly uniform in size. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

Set the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Using a sharp knife, cut the cold dough into ¼-inch slices and place about 1½ inches apart.  (You should be able to fit 12 to 15 per sheet.)

Bake 12 to 14 minutes, or until the cookies turn light golden brown at their edges.  (Rotate the pans half away through the cooking.) Leave them to cool for a minute or two and then place them on a wire rack to fully cool.  Repeat with remaining dough.

Yields about 40 cookies

-These get better the longer they sit.  And I’ve found they turn nutty after about a week. (They last brilliantly in the freezer; Molly also mentions they’ll store at room temperature for up to a month, if they actually last that long.)

-I’ve made these with all-purpose and whole wheat pastry flour. Both with great results, though the whole grain lent a certain nutty edge.  It won’t be the end of the world if you use a full cup of the whole wheat pastry flour, but slightly less than that will make them less likely to crumble.

-You can order the nibs here.