Spring is finally here! That means it’s time for the farmers market. Rhubarb is one of the first crops up, and I’m always looking for new ways to use it. Pies and jams are great, of course, but sometimes you need something a bit more adult. Why not a cocktail? Rhubarb and gin are a wonderful combination. Both are subtly floral and highly fragrant — they just need another ingredient or two to make them pop. It’s the same reason that rhubarb pie is boring, but rhubarb and strawberry is brilliant. As I was brainstorming this, my friend Andy suggested adding basil, and a springtime cocktail was born.
The execution is as simple as it gets. The trick is to plan ahead: Make the syrup at least an hour in advance so it has time to cool. Use your favorite gin — I chose Hendrick’s because it’s made with a hint of rose that complements the rhubarb nicely, but whatever you like or happen to have on hand will be great. If you don’t have a cocktail shaker you can muddle the strawberries and basil in a tall glass, add ice and the rest of the ingredients and stir. Shaking will produce a slightly lighter and frothier drink and will help you break down the berries and basil, but this will be delicious either way.
Spring Strawberry-Rhubarb Cocktail
Makes one cocktail
• 2 strawberries, sliced
• 2 basil leaves, torn
• 2 ounces rhubarb syrup
• 2 ounces gin
• 1 ounce freshly-squeezed lime juice
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the strawberry slices and basil leaves until they are fragrant.
Fill the shaker about three-quarters of the way with ice and then add the rhubarb syrup, gin and lime juice.
Shake vigorously for 15 to 20 seconds. You should hear the ice rattling loudly against the sides of the shaker.
Strain the cocktail into your favorite glass and enjoy!
Makes just over 16 ounces
• 2 cups water
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 cup diced rhubarb, cut from 1 to 2 stalks
In a medium saucepan, combine all of the ingredients.
Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium and cook about ½ hour, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb is very soft.
Strain and chill the syrup until you are ready to use it. Can be refrigerated for about a week.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 220.