In addition to its magnificent story of originating in Queen Victoria’s gardens, Warner Edwards’ Victoria Rhubarb (from our Gin of the Month, Warner Edwards), carries a number of health benefits known for millennia starting with the Chinese who still use the plant in their herbal medicines. The prevention of tumors and facilitation of digestion are examples of rhubarb’s bodily benefits.
But the more interesting of the two main ingredients in the Rhubarb and Ginger Sour, at least in terms of perceived human health, is the ginger, especially around St. Valentine’s Day. For ginger is historically one of humanity’s most-used, and most-loved, aphrodisiacs. From Confucius, who is said to have eaten ginger every day, to the Koran, which welcomes its followers to Paradise with a drink of ginger, to the Kama Sutra, which prescribes ginger for stimulating sexual drive, the spicy root has titillated the senses for millennia.
But perhaps there is no more an infamous ginger-as-an-aphrodisiac pusher than the 18th Century French mistress, Madame du Barry. Born to a single mother, father unknown, as Jeanne Bécu, du Barry found her way to Paris, selling what little she had and working odd jobs along the way to survive.
As a young girl of twenty years, she met and became the mistress of an upper-class pimp, Jean-Baptiste du Barry, who installed her in his brothel where she began to attract a Rolodex of wealthy clients, eventually making it to Versailles and gaining the interest of King Louis XV, who became quickly enamored with the young courtesan. Due to her background, she was received coldly by the majority of Versailles’ bourgeoisie but her beauty - and her skill - quickly established her as the King’s Maîtresse-en-titre, and the envy of the court.
One of those skills was knowing how to animate her rich customers, including the King, many of which had moved well on in years. She did this through her charms, of course, but also with ginger, having her suitors ingest the fresh root to set their blood flowing in the right direction.
Du Barry and her centuries of predecessors knew a psychological and physiological half-secret: the smell and taste of ginger stimulate the brain whereas its natural characteristics heat the body internally and increase circulation, all traits that can lead to arousal. But from a purely scientific perspective, there is no evidence that ginger - or any supposed natural aphrodisiac - directly leads to sexual proclivity.
Does this mean that our minds are more influential in our sexual perception than our bodies? We suggest you drink your Warner Edwards Rhubarb and Ginger Sour with your partner and find out for yourselves.
Warner Edwards Rhubarb & Ginger Sour
60ml Warner Edwards Rhubarb
30ml Fresh Lemon Juice
10ml Ginger Syrup
3 Dashes Orange & Mandarin Bitters
1 Egg White
Dry shake all ingredients then shake with ice before double-straining into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime twist.