Rhubarb takes me back to my childhood in Olympia, WA, when we would make rhubarb cobbler using stalks harvested from a prolific plant in our backyard. The Pacific Northwest is ideal rhubarb territory, according to a New York Times article from a few years ago, but rhubarb definitely has a following here in the Mid-Atlantic as well. Many vendors at the DC-area farmers’ markets sell the stuff. I bought a nice red bunch on Sunday for the express purpose of making the rhubarb syrup featured on The Kitchn recently, to be used in making rhubarb-flavored cocktails.
It’s a very simple recipe. Boil rhubarb with sugar and water for about 20 minutes, then strain through a fine strainer to extract the rosy pink syrup. As a bonus, the remaining solids can be used as rhubarb preserves or a nice topping for ice cream or yogurt.
Rhubarb ranges in color from deep red to bright green, and the local stalks seems to be somewhere in between, with reddish bases shifting towards green up at the leaf ends. I think as long as you’ve got some red in there, your rhubarb product will come out sufficiently pink. My batch of rhubarb syrup certainly turned a lovely shade. I used it to make a Rhubarb Cosmopolitan, although I think a Rhubarb Mojito would also be delicious. I made the Cosmo by shaking 2 ounces vodka, the juice of half a lime, and 1/4 cup rhubarb syrup with ice, then pouring into a champagne flute (alas, I don’t own martini glasses). There’s still plenty of syrup left, so I can spend the summer dreaming up new ways to bring this flavor of my childhood into decidedly grown-up drinks. Suggestions are welcome!