Strange though it may sound, I have been dreaming of this day for months. Huddled under a pile of blankets in the depths of winter, I couldn’t get rhubarb out of my mind. Perhaps it was the thought of all those things that rhubarb season brings with it — warm weather, gardening, not having to wear five layers of clothing to keep warm — but whatever the reason, I was stuck on it.
Now, it’s finally here. Rhubarb season has begun, and that calls for a celebration! (Okay, so the rhubarb plant in my garden hasn’t gotten the memo just yet, but it IS rhubarb season and I’m not going to let that stop me.)
Before I go rushing off to make a pie, though, I thought I’d start with something a little different. Like, rhubarb and lime simple syrup, for example.
This syrup may be simple, but it’s got a lot going on. For one, it comes in the most gorgeous shade of red, which was completely unexpected even to me. Looking at the pot of bubbling rhubarb, I was pretty certain it was going to be a muddy, flesh-toned disaster. Then I strained it, and watched this ruby syrup pour down into my jar. I promise I haven’t enhanced the color in these photos at all — in fact, I had to tone it down a little in the one above — that’s how bright it is.
Just as bright and unexpected as the color, is the flavor. All the tartness of rhubarb and lime, turned into a sweet, floral, and balanced syrup. Sweet enough that you’ll want to lick drops of it up off the counter, but sour enough to add a hint of complexity to whatever you want to add it to — which will be everything.
As you probably already know, mixing cocktails has become one of my favorite creative outlets as of late, so I couldn’t resist using this rhubarb syrup to put a spin on a classic mojito. However, it tastes just as good mixed with a little club soda, ginger ale, seven-up, or lemonade, sans the booze. You could even muddle a little mint in there and call it a virgin mojito, if you’re feeling fancy. However you do it, it’s guaranteed to be delicious.
If you’re feeling adventurous, I recommend adding a few leaves of basil to the glass along with the mint. Those sweet, herbaceous notes would pair perfectly with the rhubarb and lime, and make this drink something really special. Not that it isn’t special already (you’re perfect just the way you are, Rhubarb Mojito, don’t let anyone tell you differently), but had I had some basil on hand when I made these, you can bet it would be in there getting its dance moves on. (Because I imagine a cocktail party to be an actual party inside of an actual cocktail. What? Stop looking at me like that.)
Either way, however you choose to use it, you should definitely be making this syrup this weekend. Rhubarb sodas and mojitos for everyone!
Rhubarb & Lime Syrup
Makes about 1 cup
3 cups fresh chopped rhubarb
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1. In a small saucepan, combine the rhubarb, lime zest, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the syrup has thickened slightly, stirring occasionally.
2. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth, and pour into a clean jar. Stir in the lime juice, and let cool. Syrup should keep in the fridge for at least a couple of weeks, or can be frozen in an ice-cube tray indefinitely.
3. To use, mix 2-3 TBSP syrup per 8 oz. of club soda, seven-up, lemonade, or other beverage. Or, spoon over ice cream, drizzle over pound cake, or take by the spoonful (side effects may include: feeling spontaneously happy, smiling uncontrollably, and in severe cases, squealing with glee). Or, follow the recipe below for Rhubarb Mojitos.
Ingredients per drink – inspired by this recipe from Not Without Salt
2-3 fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
2-3 fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish (optional)
2 oz. rhubarb and lime syrup
1 oz. white rum
Lime wedges, for garnish
1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle together the mint, basil (if using), rhubarb syrup, and rum. Add ice, and shake until well chilled.
2. Pour into an ice-filled glass, and top with club soda to taste. Garnish with extra mint, basil, or lime wedges.