The last couple of weeks, here in Wisconsin, have been unseasonably warm. We hope for days in the 70’s in May, though often it only gets into the 60’s, but the last week or two has seen temperatures in the upper 80’s and even lower 90’s. Looking for ways to cool off I decided to make a few drinks based on rhubarb, seeing as I have a huge patch of the stuff just begging to get used up.

Rhubarb has the same tart quality that makes citrus fruits such wonderfully refreshing drinks when the weather gets hot. Unfortunately it doesn’t contain much sweetness so the first thing I needed to do was create a syrup with the rhubarb to sue as a base for any drinks I made. After doing some experimenting I decided on pairing the rhubarb with sugar and lime to form the syrup from which I would then create a couple of drinks.

For the alcoholic version I wanted to create I decided to use rum as the liquor. After numerous experiments and tastings (oh, the sacrifices I make for this blog) it was determined that standard white rum worked best. While, generally, I am more of a fan of gold or dark rums, I found that these rums had too much character that tended to overpower the taste of the rhubarb. Rhubarb may be quite tart, but its flavor profile is rather delicate and can easily be overwhelmed by other strong flavors.

Rhubarb Lime Syrup
2 pounds rhubarb, cut into chunks
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 cups water
1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Combine rhubarb, sugar, and water in a nonreactive sauce pan, bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 10 minutes or until the rhubarb starts to fall apart. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Strain liquid into a pitcher and add the lime juice. Chill until ready to use.

Rhubarb Spritzer – nonalcoholic

4 oz. rhubarb syrup
seltzer water

Fill a glass with ice. Add rhubarb syrup and top with seltzer water. Give a quick stir and garnish with a lime wedge.

Rhubarb Rum Cocktail

3 oz. rhubarb syrup
2 oz. Bacardi rum
1/2 oz. grenadine (preferably homemade)
seltzer water

Fill a Collins glass with ice. Add the syrup, rum and grenadine. Stir to combine. Top with seltzer water and garnish with a lime wheel.