This one was a challenge. Rhubarb Vodka is not a vodka flavor that is typically available at your local package store. They make it. It’s a real thing. But it is mostly made by local distillers and mainly from people out west. Locally, not so much. I can’t blame them. With shelf space at such a premium in liquor stores, holding on to a couple of bottles of rhubarb vodka doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially when you can use that space to sell more of the big flavors (orange, lemon, blueberry). I knew today would not be easy.
I looked at some recipes on how to make your own infused vodka and that seemed easy enough. However, I fell upon two stumbling blocks with that plan. One, rhubarb isn’t exactly in season right now (it’s usually one of the first vegetables of the spring season but definitely not a winter vegetable). And two, a good infusion takes about two months to really incorporate. Had I been thinking about this holiday back in late September, I may have been able to throw something together. I could have picked up some late season rhubarb, sliced it up, and kept it in a jar filled with vodka. Then all I would of had to do would be to shake it every once and a while and make sure that Lola didn’t go on one of her little binges. Had I done that, I’d be celebrating like crazy today. But I didn’t plan that far ahead, so I was stuck here rhubarb vodkaless (that sounds like the name of a cheesy Bond villain).
To the interwebs I went in hopes that I could find a solution. That’s when I stumbled upon a place in East Greenwich, RI called Besos Kitchen and Cocktails which specializes in local ingredients, craft cocktails and house-infused spirits. A little more research and I found that they made their very own rhubarb vodka, at least they did in the summer. I gave them a quick call and after a bartender consult, they said they still had a little left. I asked if they could make sure they saved me some and the bartender said that wouldn’t be a problem. This was all translated through the hostess who answered the phone and I think they thought I may have a problem. But I got worried when they said they just had a little left. Sure, it’s probably been sitting there since August, but what if someone else was out to celebrate National Rhubarb Vodka Day today? Would this end up in some kind of across the bar stare down between me and some other exuberant celebrator both buttering up an annoyed bartender to give us the final drop? I couldn’t risk it, so I had to ask.
After a fun little afternoon stringing up some Christmas lights and then a visit from Wavy, Brickie and Cherie, we were ready to celebrate. It would be a Saturday night out for us which has been a bit of a rarity for us as of late. We were looking forward to it. East Greenwich isn’t that far away but there’s not an easy way to get there from our house – one of the nuances about Rhode Island where everything’s close but not really. So it was a 45 minute drive. I don’t think I had ever been to East Greenwich before but it’s a quaint little town with a main street that’s lit up for holiday shopping. I think the ocean was a block or two away because there were little hints that we were in a seaside town, but we couldn’t actually see it through the night sky. I think we’ll venture back here again during the day to get the full scope of the town (and actually check to see if the ocean is still there). Beso’s is located on a corner in what looks like a big old house. Its wraparound porch was decorated with Christmas lights and it looked inviting. There’s a heater blasting down at you when you walk on the porch which warms you up and there is actually a spot with rocking chairs and blankets for you to sit while you wait for your table. It was cozy.
Inside was nice too. Clean, bright, but not too bright. The decor was perfect. Posts covered with white birch, barn doors with red berry wreaths, hardwood floors, a marble top bar. It felt inviting for sure. Plenty of staff working too including two hosts, two bartenders and waiters galore. We had a hightop table in the bar area and got seated right away. I told our server that I wanted Rhubarb Vodka however the bartender wants to serve it to me (was that coming on too strong?) Lola opted for the more festive Egg Nog Martini. Thankfully, the rush on rhubarb vodka had not yet come so there was plenty for me and my quest for the day was fulfilled.
I’m not exactly sure what the drink was. Our server told us but I’m not really sure if he knew. It was similar to a drink they had in the summer, although it was missing one ingredient. I think he said it had sugar, strawberries, some kind of lime and prosecco (did he say prosecco?) I think it was supposed to have mint too but I think they were out of that. Nonetheless it was a good little cocktail. The prevailing taste was really the rhubarb vodka. It’s a sour taste with the slightest hint of spiciness to it. It’s distinct. Cheers to the bartender for pairing it with the sugar and strawberries to add the sweetness it needed to complete it. It was refreshing and I could see it being a nice drink to have after a day at the beach. It’s summery, so a bit of place on a cold December night, but still delicious.
A great restaurant too. There was a sign on the wall right behind Lola that had them named as Best Tapas in Rhode Island from Rhode Island Magazine. Had we noticed that before we ordered, we may have stuck to all small plates. However, we did order the NY Strip Bruschetta in a Creamy Shallot Sauce from their small plate menu and that was fantastic. Truly. The steak was so tender you could cut it with your fork and the combination with the crusty bread, the shallot sauce and the shaved parmesan cheese was outstanding. We’ll be thinking about that for a while. The other star of the night was the dessert – a Banana and Cinnamon Bread Pudding. We almost skipped it because we were too full, but our server said it was a staff favorite, so we gave it a try. Wow, was that good. The bananas become one with the bread and it all gets crusty on the outside but warm and mushy on the inside. It’s served warm with whipped cream on the side and it’s topped with a sweet glaze. A great combo. One of our top ten desserts of all time.
We took the long way back home and drove through some other towns to see the lights and what was happening. This is the time of year where there really is a magic feeling in the air and when you drive through streets that are glistening with lights and happiness, it warms you up. You may even forget for a minute that it’s dark out at 5 pm and cold out. You just soak up the holiday spirit. That’s how we ease in to our holidays. Little steps. Otherwise it’s too much. So today we put some lights up, we had some cheer with a few happy kiddos, we had a night to ourselves with some great food and we toasted to our good life with a glass of rhubarb vodka. I’d say that’s a pretty good celebration.
Next up: National Cookie Day