What I'm Drinking: Strawberry-Rhubarb Smash

Last week a good friend of mine was in Madison for work and we made plans to hang out over the weekend. Given Madison's relatively close proximity to Chicago, we quickly made plans to visit our mutual friends who live there. Another friend of ours who lives in St. Louis also decided to hit the road to spend the weekend in Chicago. I love impromptu get-togethers with friends!

I seriously can't think of anything more rejuvenating than spending a few days with my girlfriends. This weekend had all the hallmarks of a great girlfriend getaway: manis and pedis, lots of chatting and catching up, and of course, plenty of food and cocktails.

Summer is definitely the best season in Chicago -- the weather is warm, the sidewalks are crowded with al fresco diners, and there are street festivals galore.

Speaking of summertime, I think I now have a new favorite cocktail -- the strawberry-rhubarb smash. And it couldn't come at a better time as summer's heat is nearly upon us up here in the Northwoods.

"What is a smash?" you might ask. Well, this classic cocktail contains four main ingredients: a spirit base (in this case, bourbon), fresh mint (or other herb), simple syrup (or sugar), and seasonal fruit. The cocktail gets its name from the muddling (or smashing) together of the mint, sugar, and fruit. (You can read more about the history of the smash here.) Summer is a great time to enjoy a smash as there is just so much delicious fresh fruit to choose from. For my first smash of the season (I have a feeling there are going to be many iterations this summer), I couldn't help but choose strawberries. And of course, it was a bit of a no-brainer to use the rhubarb simple syrup I already had on hand in the fridge.

If you prefer not to have bits and pieces of fruit and herbs in your cocktail, be sure to use a fine-mesh strainer; I prefer the rustic look so I just used the strainer on the cocktail shaker.

The only downside to these cocktails? Well, dare I say they might go down a little too easy. But that really isn't a problem, now is it?

Strawberry-Rhubarb Smash (printer-friendly version)
makes 1 cocktail

2 lemon wedges
4 mint leaves
2 strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1 ounce rhubarb simple syrup (plain simple syrup would do for a strawberry smash)
1½ ounces bourbon
sprig of mint for garnish

1. In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle together the lemon wedges, mint leaves, strawberries, and rhubarb simple syrup.
2. Add ice and the bourbon; cover and shake. Strain into a rocks glass (short tumbler) filled with ice (or one ginormous ice cube, in my case). Garnish with a sprig of mint.

(adapted from this SAVEUR recipe)