Maybe it’s all the rain we’ve gotten recently, or maybe it’s the fact that I had to read 30 journal articles about neonatal pulmonary hypertension at work today, but either way I think it’s time for a drink.
I always get excited when summer rolls around because that means it’s finally rhubarb season! Rhubarb is a lovely, stalky plant known for its tart flavor and magenta appearance. The stalks are similar to celery in terms of their texture and water content, which isn’t that exciting but bear with me. When stewed in just a bit of water and some sugar, the stalks release their ample amounts of liquid and flavor to make a delicious juice, which can then be reduced into a syrup. Personally, I love stewing rhubarb with dark red cherries, resulting in a flavor profile that is sweet and complex with just a bit of tartness.
Little known fact: rhubarb stalks are botanically considered a vegetable, but back in the late 1940s a New York court case ruled that rhubarb should be considered a fruit since they are used as the main ingredient in fruit pies. This ruling was a big deal for rhubarb lovers in the U.S. because import tariffs for vegetables were almost twice that of fruits, and the official NY ruling allowed for greater amounts of rhubarb to be imported at a much lower cost. Rhubarb lovers rejoice!
You can use this syrup in a million different ways such as on pancakes, waffles, in yogurt, ice cream, smoothies, in tea, or with soda water to make a cherry rhubarb soda. My favorite use of this refreshing syrup is, by far, in a Tom Collins. A Tom Collins is a gin-based cocktail that takes lemon juice, soda water, and simple syrup to sweeten the drink, then it’s topped off with soda water to give it a little fizz. In this recipe, the simple syrup is replaced with the cherry rhubarb syrup to add a refreshing, fruity flavor that is perfectly accented by the gin and lemon juice. I like to add a bit of mint to enhance that refreshing, summery taste. You can also save the fruit compote that is left over after straining out the juice and freeze it into cubes that can be added into drinks in the future (just watch out for any cherry pits). As the compote cubes melt, they turn your cocktail into a delicious fruit slushy. YUM.
I have to say; I got a lot of satisfaction out of seeing my boyfriend voluntarily drink a hot pink cocktail. This is one drink that even the manliest of men will enjoy :) Cheers!