A Publication of WTVP

The Murders in the Rue Barb

by Dustin Crawford |
martini rue barb

Welcome back to Mixology 101

We’ve had a wild winter and it is time to bring in spring with a strong drink!

The world of martinis is an intense one. Martinis classically were made only of bitters, vermouth and booze, but now encompass anything that is served in a martini glass. The originals are simple, stirred and straightforward with an intensity that prompts one to sip slowly and delve through the flavors as the concoction warms and blooms.

Martinis are to be stirred as long as the ingredients are not cloudy. They can be dark but with no turbidity, as is the case with the amaro in this cocktail. The stirring allows the components to mix, dilute and chill without adding air or bubbles to the mix, and creates a silky sensation on the tongue. If you prefer to add a cloudy ingredient, like olive juice in a dirty martini, shaking emulsifies that addition thoroughly. Each sip has the same taste, but will also add a frothy feel on the tongue.

This recipe sticks with a relative simplicity and reaches for a singular flavor. Rhubarb is our centerpiece with botanicals and infusions from very delicate floral and spice notes to intense jams, toffee and cola. The bitter of our amaro displaces most of the alcohol burn and leaves a dry, crisp finish.

We will be stopping in Ireland for our base spirit and then turn to Italy for our amaro and vermouth before snagging our bitters from Rochester, New York. As we’re now back in the United States, this drink is named after a short story by Edgar Allen Poe, one of my favorite American authors who writes with detail, intensity and a touch of bitterness, just like this cocktail.

First the tools: For this cocktail you will need a measuring jigger, a mixing glass, a barspoon, a hawthorne strainer, and a martini glass.

Next, the ingredients: To the mixing glass add:

  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers rhubarb bitters
  • .75 oz. Carpano Antica Formula sweet vermouth
  • .75 oz. Zucca Rabarbaro (bitter Italian liqueur made with Chinese rhubarb)
  • 1.5 oz. Ha’Penny Rhubarb Irish gin

Now, the process: Chill your cocktail glass with ice water or by leaving it in the freezer. After adding your ingredients to the mixing glass, fill it with ice well above the liquid level and stir with the barspoon for about 30 seconds. Strain your cocktail into your martini glass. There’s no need for a garnish on this cocktail, but a Luxardo cherry works well if you want a touch of sweetness.


Dustin Crawford

Dustin Crawford

is co-owner — with partner Kip Rodier — of the 33 Room in Peoria Heights. Prior to that, the U.S. Marine Corps veteran traveled the world before returning home to work his magic behind the bar at various central Illinois establishments.