I have been thinking about the rhubarb syrup in this cocktail recipe a lot over the last few weeks, ever since I first whipped it together in June. Not too sweet, with a wonderful sour tang, it just begged to be drizzled all over my favorite breakfast foods and late night snacks. That was until I drizzled it into a cocktail, and then another and another, until I forgot all about my many other plans. By the time I had perfected this beverage (and tested it once… or twice), not a drop of syrup remained. Oops.
I have been wanting to try my hand at this syrup again since then, but it was only just this week that I managed to get my hands on more rhubarb. I am sure that Dave is hoping I will use it to make him some sort of tasty pie, but he’s just going to have to wait . . . or at the very least harvest more rhubarb from his parent’s backyard.
You might be thinking that such a pretty pink beverage just screams “SUGAR“, but in this instance you’d be wrong. After a taste, no one would mistake this for anything but an adult beverage. It brings together the best aspects of a Gin & Tonic and a Pink Gin, but the rhubarb takes it somewhere entirely new. The syrup on its own is sweet, but not painfully so; mixed together with bitters and tonic you get something bright and refreshing, and surprisingly complex. It’s the sort of flavor that you want to sip and savor carefully, a quality that I look for in a cocktail. It makes me smile.
If liquor isn’t your thing, leave it out. This drink is just as nice without the gin. Mix it up with club soda to make a spritzer, consider stirring it into some homemade lemonade, or show more restraint than I did with my first batch, and try it poured over something else entirely.
Pink Rhubarb Gin (& Tonics)
Syrup adapted from the Rhubarb & Rosewater Syrup at 101 Cookbooks. Rhubarb is a rare item in our house, so this syrup recipe is for a small batch, only about 1 cup. That’s plenty for ten or so cocktails, but you can easily double or triple the recipe to your needs.
2-3 large / 1/2 pound rhubarb stalks, chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
For the cocktails:
3 oz gin, or to your preferred strength
2-3 tablespoons rhubarb syrup, or to taste
squeeze of lime juice
To make the syrup: In a medium saucepan, combine the rhubarb and sugar. Stir well, and leave to sit unheated on the counter for about 45 minutes, giving the mixture an occasional stir to help the rhubarb give off its juice.
Add the water to the saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Stir until the sugar dissolves, and then continue to simmer for another 15-20 minutes, until the rhubarb just starts to break down. Strain into a bowl; you can use damp cheesecloth to achieve an extra clear syrup, but a fine mesh strainer works just as well for me. You may want to discard the leftover rhubarb because it will be a bit overly stewed, but we enjoyed it stirred it into some yoghurt.
Return your syrup to the saucepan, first wiping it clean of any residue. Stir in the lime juice, and bring to a simmer again. Simmer uncovered over medium heat for 15 minutes or so, until the syrup has reduced and thickened. Remove from heat and cool completely before using.
To assemble your cocktails: Split the gin between the glasses, then add 1-2 tablespoons of the rhubarb syrup and a squeeze of lime juice to each glass. Stir quickly to combine. Drop in a couple of ice cubes, fill to the top with tonic, and add a dash of the bitters. Garish with a slice of lime.
Makes 2 short cocktails, with lots of syrup to spare