Well, we did some experimenting, and while our first inclination was to use strawberries, we found piles of rhubarb at the farmer's market — and came up instead with this lovely, pink concoction. Click below for the recipe...Rhubarb definitely needs to be sweetened up from its natural state, especially for a summery cocktail, so we cooked it down with some sugar and made a purée.
We cut some basil into ribbons, bruised it a bit with the back of a spoon, and stirred in the rhubarb, liquor, and club soda. In the name of, ahem, thorough research, we tasted two versions — one with gin, one with vodka — and determined that the complexity of rhubarb and the herbal flavor of the basil needed a less flavorful alcohol. Vodka it was.
With its preppy palette of blushing pink and grassy green leaves, we have to say that this is one of the prettiest cocktails we've had in a while.
Rhubarb Basil Cocktail
makes one drink
3 medium to large basil leaves, rolled and cut into thin strips
3 tablespoons rhubarb purée (recipe follows)
1 1/2 ounces vodka
Put the basil in the bottom of a glass and press with the back of a spoon to bruise slightly. Add the rhubarb purée and stir. Add vodka and ice cubes and top with club soda. Garnish with a basil leaf.
makes about 2 cups
12-13 stalks of rhubarb
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Chop the rhubarb into small, 1/2-inch pieces. Put in a medium saucepan with the sugar and water. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft.
Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender (or use an immersion blender) and purée until smooth. Set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the rhubarb through the strainer, pressing to get as much of the rhubarb out as possible. Discard the leftover fibrous bits.
Use rhubarb purée in this cocktail, pour over ice cream, or stir into a rhubarb fool.
(Images: Elizabeth Passarella)