It’s not quite strawberry season, cherries look like small, hard green marbles and peaches are just a fuzzy dream.
But there is rhubarb.
Rhubarb is a strange edible. Not really a fruit but typically used as one, poisonous except for the stalk, tart and astringent and stringy when raw. Who was the first brave gatherer that discovered that this unpromising stem turns floral and delicate and aromatic when cooked? Add a bit of sweetener and rhubarb delivers the flavor of fruit to a palette tired of winter greens and root crops.
This cocktail ties with rhubarb crisp as my favorite way to use the first faux-fruit of spring. Based off the classic French 75, the Rhubarb 75 is an iron fist in a velvet glove. The drink is quite balanced and easy to imbibe, but go easy – the potent combo of gin and sweetness shouldn’t be underestimated.
Speaking of gin – many people (ladies, I’m looking at you) swear they hate gin because they had some cheap juniper-bomb served as a Martini (or, God-forbid, a Gibson) back in college. The flavor of gin varies substantially by brand – the whole point is that the maker gets to pull together their distinct collection of spices, herbs and botanicals and uses those to flavor neutral spirits (vodka).
So saying you don’t like gin is a bit like saying you don’t like curry – which can be everything from a dusty bottle of anemic powder in the grocery store, to a bright Thai green curry made smooth with coconut milk, to a rich and aromatic braise filled with toasty ginger and turmeric and fennel.
I am not a fan of a strong juniper-forward flavor profile, and like Hendrick’s Gin for most of my gin-based cocktails. Sip around – you may find that you do like gin, after all.
First things, first. You’re going to need some Rhubarb Simple Syrup.
Rhubarb Simple Syrup
This flavored syrup is so delicious and such a lovely soft pink color (the photos taken at night with my iPhone really don’t do it justice) that I encourage everyone with an overgrown rhubarb patch to make a few jars. The syrup is great in this cocktail, of course, but also delicious mixed with sparkling water.
- 8 oz. fresh or frozen rhubarb stalk (2 large stalks)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
Chop the rhubarb stalks into 1-inch sections. Combine rhubarb, sugar and water in a small saucepan. Cover, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Simmer for about fifteen minutes, until the rhubarb is very soft. Strain the rhubarb syrup through a fine sieve. Push as much juice as possible through the sieve, leaving behind the soft rhubarb puree (which is delicious now, used like applesauce).
Let the rhubarb syrup cool and use in The Rhubarb 75, or as desired. Keeps refrigerated for several weeks.
The Rhubarb 75
- 2 oz. Gin
- 1 oz. Rhubarb Simple Syrup
- 1/2 oz. Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
- Splash soda water
Shake gin, rhubarb simple syrup and lemon juice together with finely cracked ice and pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Add a splash – about an ounce – of soda water to the drink and garnish with a peel of fresh rhubarb stalk if desired. So delicious!
Enjoy and happy weekend!154
Laura @ Raise Your Garden says
Well I hope the rabbits in my yard read this post so they find out that rhubarb is poisonous except for the stalk!
Really like the pinch of lemon juice you added, I wouldn’t have thought to do that.
Happy Memorial Day to you!!
I made a rhubarb syrup recently. Rhubaritas are really good, but I actually like a rhubarb gin and tonic. I try not to drink it too much as I’m trying to cut back on sugar. But what are you going to do? It is rhubarb season.
Please share recipe for Rhubarbarita! That sounds amazing!!!
I might be the one person in the world who has never had rhubarb or gin, so I don’t know if I would make this, but I do like that soft pink color! The picture is lovely. And your writing is always smooth, probably like the drink? A winner!
Ooh, I keep forgetting to make syrup for rhubaritas, but now I have another reason–and I actually have gin in the house for once. Thanks!
Making the rhubarb syrup right now, going to mix it all up except for the soda and take it camping. I’ll add the soda water and ice there. Fun and won’t they be impressed?! Thanks for this cool recipe!
What a novel idea! I have been wondering what to do with all my rhubarb! I’m going to make a vodka martini with the syrup; it’s what’s in the house. I’ll weigh in laters on that, if I can still type…Love your blog!
update: I had to modify the amounts in the recipe; 1 oz vodka 5 oz rhubarb syrup and 5 oz of soda. and it still knocked my socks off. Incidentally, the drink paired nicely with nibbles of carambazola.
I have the end of a batch of rhubarb simple syrup in the fridge as we speak! Needless to say, a rhubarb 75 or two is definitely going to happen. 🙂
Whoa, whoa, whoa, the rhubarb syrup sounds great and all, but did you just say gin is just vodka with flavorings??? Does this mean my bottom shelf vodka I keep around for pie crusts and brewing air locks could be waiting for some herbal blend so it can replace my decidedly-not-bottom-shelf Gin love?
In the meantime I’ll be sipping seltzer with rhubarb simple syrup and eating these muffins.
The Couch Potato says
My family has had rhubarb growing in our garden for over a decade, it was a gift from our neighbor, and we never used it. I even dug the roots out once down about a foot but it just came back.
That sounds amazing!
Nicole S. says
Yum! How can any one not like gin? I recently tried a gin found at Costco: Counter Gin. It is quite good! Can’t wait to try this one, thank you.
My rhubarb plants are just a year old, so I took all I dared to try this. The first time DH has LIKED rhubarb! Score one for the team. But we only got two helpings 🙁 each.
Once these plants grow, is this syrup something I can put up in mason jars? I’m not so good yet at improvising times for canning novel things. Or should I flash freeze rhubarb like I do celery? Yum thanks and googling for rhubarb tequila ideas.
Ann, I wanted to pass along Erica’s recipe for canning Rhubeena but after looking it turns out my memory was faulty and it was actually from Tigress. Very similar product and a lovely cocktail mixer. Hope it is ok to post the link: http://hungrytigress.com/2010/05/rhubeena/
I’m about to get some of my parent’s rhubarb that’s big enough to transplant, so this post is excellent timing. The rhubarb purée that’s leftover might be a good experiment for my more adventurous goblins.
Not a huge gin fan, but I haven’t tried many varieties at all – didn’t realize that the flavor profiles differed so much. Cool!
I’m trying this tonight. I’m a newcomer to rhubarb. We just had rhubarb chutney on chicken (with fresh goat cheese) and it was to die for (http://www.marthastewart.com/348836/rhubarb-chutney).
Sitting at my computer with a warm glow, 1/2 of a Rhubarb 75 consumed.
My syrup turned out almost radioactive pink – a pretty striking color.
My first attempt at the drink is quite tasty, but it reminds me more of grapefruit than rhubarb – no complaints though!
I made this last summer and LOVED it. Absolutely, positively loved it. Next year I’m not giving away any of my monstrously large rhubarb plant. None of it. It’s ALL going to be either crisp or syrup for Rhubarb 75’s.
Have you ever tried the Sunshine Rhubarb Juice Concentrate recipe in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving? It calls for 12 cups rhubarb, 4 cups water, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and zest and juice from a lemon and an orange. It can also be made without the citrus.
If I could have Rhubarb 75’s year round, I’d be very happy.
John L Commeree says
Used Ikea’s rhubarb drink concentrate – tastes good – will compare to homemade once the rhubarb is ready for harvest.