The rhubarb — bright red with speckles of green — glistened on my kitchen counter. This spring veggie is a welcome gift after winter, popping up in our gardens and in our local farmer’s markets. While its beautifully tart flavor is usually paired with strawberries and reserved for pies, I thought it best be made into a martini.
Since rhubarb is a celebratory recognition of spring, I thought it would be perfect in everyone’s favorite celebration martini, the Cosmopolitan. The tartness of the rhubarb would be an easy substitution for cranberry juice, and the brilliant red color would make it a perfectly pink cocktail.
I stood in the kitchen washing and chopping the rhubarb. The open windows welcomed in a spring breeze. My sister studied nearby; it was rare that we sat together in quiet. The kids napped and life was slow on this Saturday afternoon. My sister looked up from her book and said, “Remember when we used to eat rhubarb right out of grandpa’s garden?”
I did, the huge stalks still covered in dirt and sour-patch kids tart. I laughed thinking about my little rhubarb plant in my own backyard, its sad tiny shape with stir-stick sized stems. It made me wonder how long that rhubarb plant at my grandpa’s house had grown. It had probably welcomed many springs over the years in that spot near the steps. A bush more than a plant, it grew without any care or attention, surrounded by weeds, my grandpa’s rhubarb had thick stems as long as his forearms.
While I made the rhubarb syrup, I sat anxiously watching it drip. It made me think about the excitement and anticipation during summer when I’m canning jam. The sweet smell of summer fruit fills the air, the stove top sticky with red berry-stains, and the sound of canning jars popping on the kitchen counter. In no time, the tart spring veggie transformed into a bright, sweet pink syrup.
Without hesitation, I dipped my finger into the syrup with flecks of vanilla bean—it was sweet and decadent. I shook it with vodka, triple sec, and lime juice—it was the exactly the celebration cocktail I envisioned: the rhubarb syrup gave the drink a subtle tartness, and it was worthy of a slow sip to savor the fusion with the alcohol.
This is a really easy recipe, and the best part is that there are even leftovers. Yes, leftovers! After you make what you need for the Rhubarb Cosmopolitans, reserve remaining cooked rhubarb and syrup for new sweet and savory ideas (see ideas below).
- 3 cups chopped rhubarb
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
- 1 cup ice
- ½ cup vodka
- 1/3 cup triple sec
- 3 tablespoons rhubarb syrup
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- lemon for lemon twists
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring rhubarb, water, sugar, and vanilla to a boil. Cook 15-20 minutes until rhubarb is completely cooked and soft.
Remove pan from heat and allow to cool.
Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl (ensure fit so mixture and liquid does not leak out the sides) and place rhubarb mixture in the strainer. Allow juice to drain into bowl and lightly press mixture into strainer until syrup has completely drained. Once drained, you will should have 1 cup of rhubarb syrup. Reserve the cooked rhubarb for future use, see notes below. Chill rhubarb syrup until ready to use.
In a cocktail shaker combine ice, vodka, triple sec, rhubarb syrup, and lime juice. Shake profusely for 5 seconds and pour into two martini glasses. Garnish with lemon twist (use a knife or vegetable peeler to remove a long strip of peel and then twist) if desired.
Additional Uses for Rhubarb Syrup (you will have almost one cup after making this recipe)
Refrigerate syrup for up to one week
- For a non-alcoholic drink or mocktail, add to sparkling water
- Add to your favorite gin and tonic or to sparkling wine
- Drizzle over breakfast foods like pancakes, French toast waffles, oatmeal or yogurt
Additional Uses for Cooked Rhubarb (you will have almost one cup after making this recipe)
Refrigerate for up to one week
- Use as a topping on vanilla ice cream
- Use as a jam for toast or bread
- Serve on top of breakfast foods like pancakes, French toast, waffles, oatmeal or yogurt
- Serve over roasted chicken or cooked pork chops
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This post was written by Alice Seuffert exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.