A collection of seasonal recipes and stories

rhubarb, rosemary & gin

For much of my life, the approach of summer signalled a season of blissful slackness — a languid three-month-long stretch free of responsibilities and obligations and schedules. Then I became a grown-up, a grown-up with year-round responsibilities and obligations and schedules that, because I live in a resort town, seem to multiply rather than diminish as summer approaches. Fortunately, there’s gin for that.

This time of year, at the pinnacle of pre-summer stress, there’s also rhubarb. And, as we’ve already established, gin and rhubarb are really quite lovely together. For this year’s version I added another layer of aromatic astringency with a few sprigs of rosemary. The sweet, piney notes of the herb mingle with the subtle botanicals of gin, softening the sharp edges of bracingly tart rhubarb to create a cocktail that’s smooth and dry and delightfully assertive.


And if your equally assertive husband insists that you quit worrying about things and spend the afternoon sitting on the deck sipping gin while the newly opened apples blossoms sway delicately in the breeze, I suggest you listen. I also suggest that you don’t embrace the relaxation thing so fully that you find yourself five cocktails in at 4 pm, but that’s entirely up to you.

Rhubarb, Rosemary & Gin Cocktail
makes 8
adapted from Bon Appétit
printable recipe

2¼ cups water, divided
2 Tbsp. + ½ cup sugar
½ cup fresh rosemary leaves
3 cups diced fresh rhubarb
6 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1½ cups good gin

Place 1 cup water and 2 Tbsp. sugar in small saucepan and simmer, stirring frequently, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add rosemary leaves. Cover and steep for 5 minutes. Strain through fine-mesh sieve, pressing on leaves to extract liquid. Cool syrup to room temperature, then chill for 4 hours.

Puree 1¼ cups water, ½ cup sugar, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice and rhubarb in blender. Strain through fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Squeeze the remaining rhubarb pulp to release as much liquid as possible. Chill the juice for 4 hours.

Mix the rosemary syrup, rhubarb juice, remaining 5 Tbsp. lemon juice, and gin in a pitcher or large jar. Pour over ice and garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs, if desired.

Leftovers (ha!) should keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.

7 responses

  1. Argh! THANK you for posting this in enough time for Memorial Day! I am definitely going to give this a try for our backyard BBQ – it sounds amazing and refreshing and delightful all around!! I am so excited! (In fact, I may have to give them a test run the day before. Just to, you know…make SURE. =) Thanks again!

    May 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm

  2. Oh yes, Memorial Day! In all my stress about the approaching holiday, I forgot that. . .duh!. . .it’s a holiday. Have fun! Drink gin! This is easy to double or triple for a crowd, and easy to make ahead. But, yeah, I’d test it, just to be sure. :-)

    May 23, 2011 at 9:06 pm

  3. Okay. The verdict is in. I followed your recipe and instructions to the letter, but I doubled the batch. Just to be on the safe side. We had about 15 people for a BBQ over Memorial Day weekend. My husband had made some amazing curried coleslaw…there were many delectable things being grilled…but what did people keep asking for?? “Do you have any more of that awesome pink drink left?” Sadly, no…the answer was no. We ran out before I could hardly blink, and I’m just glad I got one myself. (okay, well two, actually.)

    These were one of the most delicious, refreshing drinks I’ve ever had and all day long people kept asking me about it! I’m not usually a big gin fan, but this was the perfect combination…and it was super easy to make…AND I got to do a little showing off by using rosemary from our own garden.

    A major hit! I don’t think I’ll be able to wait for rhubarb season next year before making these again.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:40 am

    • Aimee, that is so nice to hear! I’ve been considering mixing up everything except the gin and freezing it as a way of extending the rhubarb season. I hesitate only because this cocktail is so definitively springy that I’m not sure I’d love it quite as much in, say, January.

      So glad this was a hit at your party, and thanks for your kind words!

      June 3, 2011 at 9:47 am

  4. hip hip horray!

    i was more than intrigued by your in-season cocktail recipe, so i gave it a go this evening and…

    i’m in bliss!

    thank you so much for mastering this scrumptious spring drink, it will forever be in my book of favourites!
    i truly appreciate your dedication to all things seasonally harvested. please keep doing what you’re doing!
    it’s just perfect.

    June 12, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    • Oh yay! I was surprised, actually, by how much I loved this cocktail. It’s definitely become a favorite and I’m so glad other people are enjoying it, too.

      June 12, 2011 at 9:29 pm

  5. This looks FABULOUS! It is officially on my to-do list for this weekend! Love it!

    June 14, 2011 at 2:08 pm

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