I couldn’t help trying to decipher the roles of each ingredient in the Rhubarb-Ginger Compote, and identify which elements could be eliminated to further streamline the drink. So I started to question Wenne Alton Davis, the mixologist at Ono in Manhattan’s Gansevoort Hotel, regarding her thought process in putting together her cooler. It is composed of vodka, GranGala Triple Orange Liqueur, rhubarb-ginger compte, muddled strawberry and mint, lemon juice, white tea, and prosecco. I went through the list of ingredients, asking her, “Why this?” of each one. Wenne got me to think of cocktails as having layers of taste. The vodka, if not toned down by the rest of the mix, could have been a bit astringent. The GranGala alone is rather sweet and intensely orange, but in this mix it creates a backbone without imparting too much personality. The rhubarb-ginger compote imparts both a subtle tart-and-spicy accent as well as adding to the layered texture of the mix. The fresh mint and lemon juice contribute a refreshing zest. I was intrigued by the inclusion of white tea, since it has a hint of tannin, which introduces an additional layer of texture to the drink. The splash of prosecco as the finale gives a touch of effervescence. The only component I saw as unnecessary was the muddled strawberry, which weighed down the otherwise very light and summery cocktail. Of course, I didn’t grow up in the States, so the combination of rhubarb and strawberry rings no bell. For Wenne, who grew up on rhubarb-strawberry pies, the inclination to put these flavors together is only natural.
It was a joy to have the opportunity to discuss an original drink with its creator, and especially as I got the recipe for the rhubarb-ginger compote, which I later fantasized about layered on toast smattered with butter! (See recipe below.)
Created by Wenne Alton Davis, Mixologist at Ono
Restaurant, New York City
1 oz. vodka
3/4 oz. GranGala Triple Orange Liqueur
1 1/2 oz. rhubarb-ginger compote*
7 mint leaves
3/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. Snow White tea**
Splash of Prosecco
In a shaker, add the strawberry, mint leaves and
rhubarb-ginger compote. Muddle. Add ice, vodka,
GranGala, fresh lemon juice and Snow White tea. Shake.
Pour into a 12 ounce highball glass and top with
Cut rhubarb into one-inch pieces. In a pot, combine
1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar per pound of
rhubarb, and bring to a boil on high heat. Add rhubarb
and then reduce heat to medium. Add 3 ounce of fresh
ginger that has been peeled and thinly sliced and two
slices of fresh lemon. Let the mixture simmer for
about 7 – 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the
mixture from heat and let sit for a few minutes.
Remove the ginger and lemon slices.
**Snow White tea is a freshly brewed tea that can be
purchased from SerendipiTea.com.
Place one level teaspoon of tea leaves, per cup of
water, into teapot. Pour almost boiling water over the
leaves and allow them to steep up to three minutes. Do
not steep longer than three minutes, as it will
increase the bitterness of the tea.