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At the first sight of fresh spring rhubarb, I start craving this Rhubarb Cocktail. It's gently spiked with rum, a little bit tart, a little bit sweet and herbaceous, and entirely refreshing.
As a rule, we're red wine people. But it's fun to have an occasional cocktail, usually of the gin variety in our house: a good martini with olives or a gin and tonic (with homemade tonic water). So I'm not sure why this drink caught my eye in a long ago issue of Bon Appétit magazine. Maybe it was that pretty sprig of rosemary poking out of the top. Whatever it was, I made it, and we've had it every year since when the scarlet stalks of rhubarb appear at the grocery store or farmer's market.
Ingredients You Need for this Rhubarb Cocktail
- Fresh Rhubarb: Look for the reddest stalks you can find.
- Fresh Rosemary: Dried rosemary is not a good substitute here.
- Lemons: Look for brightly colored, firm lemons that are heavy for their size.
- Sugar: Granulated white sugar, superfine if you have it.
- Water: Ideally filtered for making rosemary infused simple syrup.
- Rum: White rum for its mild (not spiced) flavor profile and clear color. Vodka or a London dry gin or Plymouth gin would also be excellent.
It's not just the raw rhubarb with its floral notes and pleasantly sour flavor or the perky, earthy hint of rosemary that I love in this delicious cocktail. It's also lively, not too sweet, and one recipe makes the perfect amount for a party. Fill a pitcher to share with friends. Serve it over ice or stir in cocktail shaker with ice to serve up in a martini glass.
Look for the reddest stalks of rhubarb you can find so you'll end up with cocktails that are a pretty pink color instead of murky green ones (though they'd still be tasty). And make sure to start this recipe at least 4 hours or up to a day before you plan to serve.
How to Make this Rhubarb Cocktail
Step 1: Dissolve ¼ cup of sugar in 1 cup of water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and add rosemary leaves to steep for 5 minutes. Strain out rosemary and let syrup cool.
Step 2: Blend diced rhubarb, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 ¼ cups water, and ¼ cup sugar to a into a coarse puree. Strain liquid into a medium bowl through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing with a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Cover and refrigerate rhubarb juice and rosemary syrup separately for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.
Step 3: When you're ready to make cocktails, mix rhubarb juice, rosemary simple syrup, remaining lemon juice, and rum in a pitcher. Stir to combine. Serve in glasses filled with ice. Garnish with shaved rhubarb ribbon and fresh rosemary sprig if desired.
More of My Favorite Cocktail Recipes
- Peach Bellini (The classic cocktail that started at Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy!)
- French 75 Cocktail (One of my all-time favorite bubbly cocktails!)
- The Last Word Cocktail (Made with the herbaceous French liqueur, Chartreuse!)
Rhubarb Cocktail with Rosemary
- 2 ¼ cups water divided
- ½ cup sugar divided
- ½ cup fresh rosemary leaves
- 3 stalks fresh rhubarb diced
- 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice divided
- 1 ½ cups white rum
- 8 sprigs fresh rosemary for garnish
- Heat 1 cup water and ¼ cup sugar to simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; add ½ cup rosemary leaves. Steep for 5 minutes then strain through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on rosemary. Discard rosemary and let syrup cool.
- Add diced rhubarb, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 ¼ cups water, and ¼ cup sugar to a blender. Blend into a coarse puree. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl, using a spoon to coax liquid through mesh. (You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your sieve.) Squeeze pulp with your hands to release as much liquid as possible. Discard pulp.
- Cover and refrigerate rhubarb juice and rosemary syrup separately for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.
- When you're ready to make cocktails, mix rhubarb juice, rosemary syrup, remaining lemon juice, and rum in a pitcher. Stir to combine.
- Serve Rhubarb Cocktails in glasses filled with ice. Or pour into an ice filled cocktail shaker and stir until very cold to serve up in martini glasses. Garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig and/or a fresh rhubarb ribbon threaded onto a cocktail pick.