Those who love rhubarb need no convincing: a rhubarb cocktail is guaranteed to be delicious. If you’ve never had rhubarb (or don’t know what rhubarb is), here’s the 411: rhubarb is a vegetable that everyone thinks is a fruit. It looks like pink and red celery. It has a sour taste. And its leaves are poisonous. So don’t eat those. But most of all, rhubarb is delicious.
My introduction to rhubarb came from my grandmother. She is the most amazing cook and baker. And one of her specialities is pie. While her lemon meringue, pecan, and apple varieties are certainly delicious, my favorite has always been her rhubarb pie. (Ok, she makes a mean pineapple upside-down cake, too.)
Unlike many rhubarb pies, my Grandma Martha doesn’t add strawberries to her recipe. She cooks down the bright rhubarb stalks with sugar and lemon, bringing out the natural flavor of the rhubarb.
She also has a secret pie crust recipe that takes things over the edge. But, let’s focus on the rhubarb for now. Rhubarb has a sweet and tart taste. It’s surprising and delightful with each bite. For me, Grandma Martha’s rhubarb pie is the ultimate comfort food.
And I realize my take on comfort food is may not be the equivalent of a mac and cheese or bowl of mashed potatoes. What’s comforting to me about rhubarb pie is this: each taste is bright, but also warm, and at the same time complex. It’s a smart balance of flavors, textures, and, of course, nostalgia.
As a working mom of two young children, I frequently experience stress. Recently, I’ve been having a high level of stress due to life’s pressure. A full-time and demanding career, two kids, a dog, and a blog is enough to make anyone’s head spin. And that doesn’t scratch the surface.
But, I’m lucky to have a very supportive family, husband, and friends. When I told my mom and my husband that I needed a kid-free weekend with my friend, they were totally onboard. And my friend was the best host.
But what does this have to do with a rhubarb cocktail? I’m getting there, I promise.
Back to the story. So, a couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of spending a long weekend with a very special friend (who happens to also be a food blogger). And when we get together, we laugh, drink, and enjoy good food. Sometimes we go out, other times we make food together at our homes.
This time, we developed the ultimate rhubarb cocktail.
It started with a question: what kind of cocktail should we make?
And it lead to a glorious discovery.
First, we set out in search of rhubarb. Rhubarb is actually quite hard to find. It’s not necessarily in vogue. But my inner 90-year-old woman DNGAF about those things. I wanted rhubarb, and we were going to find it.
But we didn’t find it. We had a great conversation with the people at the Pocono Farmstand Nursery about rhubarb. They didn’t have any fresh stuff. What we did find, though, was rhubarb jam.
At the time, I didn’t realize I had such an emotional connection to rhubarb. I was so happy to see the rhubarb jam that I babbled a short anecdote to the cashier about Grandma Martha’s rhubarb pie. (Which is unlike me.)
And then we set off in search of the rest of our ingredients. But first, manis and pedis.
We did some research on the best rhubarb cocktails from the nail place. We found that the best rhubarb cocktail recipes had a few things in common beyond the star ingredient: gin, lime, and simple syrup.
But to us seasoned foodies, we wanted to take things up a notch.
We decided on gin, but not your basic Tanqueray. My friend selected Hendrick’s gin, which is quite incredible. It’s infused with rose and cucumber. (Fun fact: my friend hates cucumber but loved this drink.) And it also has a blend of botanicals including orange peel, lemon peel, elderflower, angelica root, caraway seeds, juniper, orris root, yarrow, coriander seeds, and cubeb berries.
It sounds like a lot, but it’s all part of their process to make one spectacular ingredient.
We also grabbed Stoli Ginger Beer, a non-alcoholic mixer, to incorporate into our beverage.
At the groceries store, we picked up a lemon and lime juice.
Back at home, my friend picked fresh English thyme and Thai basil from her garden.
Using her new Vitamix (I told you she’s a food blogger!), with the Aer Disc Container, we muddled the rhubarb jam, lemon, lime juice, English thyme, and gin together. The coolest thing about this gadget is she was able to add a whole lemon (cut, without seeds) and ice to the Aer Disc Container, and it didn’t destroy the lemon skin or break the ice.
This was the base for our rhubarb cocktail. We filled a wine glass up halfway with the base, added the pretty Thai basil, and topped with ginger beer. It was refreshing, exciting, and delicious.
We paired ours with homemade truffle edamame dumplings in sake butter. For this round, we did without the lobster and mushrooms. Guess what? They were still so, so delicious.
That dish is also a nostalgic dish for me. I discovered it at Koi in Bryant Park, where my husband took me for my birthday the first year we were together. If you live or work in NYC, I highly recommend Koi in Bryant Park for their small plates and cocktails. The edamame dumping are, of course, my fave.
Since that first birthday together, I’ve returned to Koi quite a few times – but only with those who will truly appreciate it. My friend is one of those people. (We’ve gone twice!)
For what it’s worth, I think this would also pair nicely with our egg roll in a bowl recipe. But please note that this rhubarb cocktail is not keto. (It is low-fat and vegan, though!)
Anyway, now I’m rambling. I hope you enjoy this rhubarb cocktail recipe as much as I do. It’s perfect for a girl’s night in, a brunch, or a holiday gathering. Enjoy!
- 2 tablespoons rhubarb jam
- Half a lemon
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 4 ounces Hendrick's gin
- 1 can Stoli ginger beer (non-alcoholic)
- 1 sprig of English thyme
- 2 sprigs of Thai basil
- Add the ice, rhubarb jam, lemon, lime juice, gin, and English thyme to your muddling device. (We used the Vitamix Aer Disc, but you can use a shaker or muddler.) Get muddling.
- Once muddling step is complete, pour into your class of choice.
- Add a sprig of Thai basil to each glass.
- Top with Stoli ginger beer.
- Cheers and enjoy!
Thai basil is different than Italian basil. You'll know it's Thai basil from the pretty purple flowers that are at the top. While this recipe makes two perfect drinks, we know you'll want some more! You can easily double or triple the recipe above. And if you opt for different brands, we're sure it will still be a tasty concoction! Let us know what you think in the comments.
- Vitamix 7500 Low-Profile Blender, Professional-Grade, 64 oz. Container, Black
- Vitamix 065421 AER Disc Container, 48 oz, Clear
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Serving Size:1 drink (1/2 recipe)
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 308 Total Fat: 0g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 2mg Carbohydrates: 65g Fiber: 0.6g Sugar: 57g Protein: 0.2g