This cocktail is a great way to celebrate one of the first fruits of spring, gorgeous ruby-red rhubarb. You can make batches of rhubarb syrup and freeze them to enjoy all year long, or simply put cut rhubarb in the freezer and whip up a batch of syrup whenever needed. The syrup has a nice touch of sweetness so you can adjust the lemon juice in the cocktail to make the drink as tart or sweet as you prefer. This recipe also makes a delicious non-alcoholic mocktail – a great alternative to lemonade!
For the rhubarb syrup
- 4 cups (1 L) chopped rhubarb
- ½ cup (125 mL) white sugar
- 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
- 2 inch (5 cm) piece of ginger, sliced
- ¾ cup (180 mL) water
For the cocktail
- 3 ounces (60 mL) rhubarb syrup
- ½ ounce (15 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 ounces (30 mL) vodka
- 4 ice cubes
- Soda or sparkling water
- Thin stalks of rhubarb, cut into lengths one inch (2.5 cm) taller than glassware
- Place chopped rhubarb in a non-reactive saucepan and add sugar, vanilla beans and ginger. Stir to combine, then cover and let sit for 8 – 12 hours so fruit can macerate. This draws the liquid out of the rhubarb and makes for a richer tasting syrup.
- After the fruit has macerated, add the water and place over medium heat. Bring the fruit mixture to a boil and then reduce heat slightly to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes, until rhubarb is very soft.
- Strain the mixture into a clean glass jar with a tight lid and refrigerate until cool. Rather than discarding the leftover fruit, remove the vanilla beans and add the cooked rhubarb and ginger to your favourite smoothie recipe!
- Rhubarb syrup will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks.
- To prepare a cocktail, put the rhubarb syrup, lemon juice, vodka and ice cubes in a cocktail shaker (or clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid). Shake for one minute then strain mixture into a cocktail glass. Top with soda water and garnish with a piece of rhubarb.
Makes 1 cocktail; you can easily bake bigger batches.