Interrupting your regularly scheduled programming to alert you that rhubarb is finally here. It’s ready. It’s probably at your local farmer’s market, just sitting there in all of its tangy ruby glory. Hear it calling out to you, begging to be turned into a stunningly seasonal rhubarb cocktail? You should probably stop reading this immediately and go get some already, right? I’ll just wait here until you get back.
Got some? Good. Sorry for the urgency, but those stalks seems to get snatched up the moment someone stocks them, and I don’t want you missing out on my absolute favorite spring ingredient. From now until May, I’ll be churning out rhubarb recipes until you beg me to stop. In fact, there are fewer photos of this recipe than usual because I actually couldn’t stop playing around with new variations long enough to shoot this one.
I’m calling this one ‘Velvet Snow’ because it looks like a pillowy pile of blush velvet, the crushed ice as soft and light as a cloud. And the taste? I don’t like to pick favorites — all of my recipes fulfill a particular ‘drink mood’ for me, and have their own time and place in my heart — but, if I were forced to choose… don’t tell the others… this would be one of them. There! I said it. Maybe it’s the tangy tartness of the rhubarb itself, or the warmth of the vanilla bean I use in my syrup, or the lightly floral notes enhanced by the addition of orange blossom water. It could be the sheer fact that it’s the drink in my hand right now and I’m biased (very possible). But that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
Oh, and that rhubarb syrup? Definitely one of my favorites, for good reason. The leftover rhubarb pulp, essentially the byproduct of the syrup, happens to be an amazing compote, equally incredible on crostini with goat cheese, over ice cream, on a cheese plate, or with toast. You’re welcome.
Now, a word about rhubarb garnishes. I use a mandolin to ribbon raw rhubarb stalks, and a good, sharp peeler will work just as well. Here’s this thing, though: sometimes a rhubarb stalk just does not want to peel into a perfect, picture-worthy ribbon. Don’t fuss over it. Swirl your less than perfect rhubarb ribbons over your crushed ice as artistically as you can, or forgo the tricky rhubarb and stick an edible flower on top. The drink will taste amazing either way.
- 1 oz Haitian rhum (I used Rhum Barbancourt)
- 1 oz fino sherry
- .75 oz rhubarb syrup (recipe below)
- .5 oz fresh squeezed/strained lime
- .5 oz cream
- 1 dash angostura bitters
- pinch of salt
- For the syrup: Combine ¾ lb chopped rhubarb in a saucepan with 1 cup water, 1 cup cane sugar, and 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, then lower heat and cover. Let simmer gently for 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Stir in ¼ tsp orange blossom water, replace lid, and let cool to room temp. Refrigerate overnight, then strain with a nut milk bag or a cheesecloth-covered sieve. Reserve the strained, broken down rhubarb for use as a compote, and store both syrup and compote in the fridge. [TIP: you can make the syrup without the vanilla bean or orange blossom water in a pinch. You won't get the same depth of flavor, but it will be nearly as good.]
- For the cocktail: Combine all in a cocktail shaker with three ice cubes, and shake for 5 seconds.
- Strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice, then add more crushed ice on top.
- Garnish with rhubarb ribbons and serve with a straw.
If you like the look of this rhubarb cocktail but aren’t a huge rhubarb fan, check out my Garden Party recipe. It’s equally light and floaty (and, you know, pink), but has a strictly floral profile. Another spring stunner to be sure. And if you’re looking for a floral cocktail with a slightly shorter ingredient list, check out my Spring IPA Sour. Not pink, but a bright and cheery shade of yellow that looks every bit as lovely to me.
And if you try this rhubarb cocktail recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag a photo #gooddrink @colljeffers on Instagram. I love seeing your creations. Cheers, friends!