I’ve been hinting for weeks that I wanted a special cocktail for my birthday. Last summer we got so used to fresh, seasonal ingredients that our long winter presented a special challenge for the Cocktail Study Club. More often than not, Friday night rolled around and Charlie would say, “How about a martini?” I love his martinis but enough is enough. For my birthday, I was yearning for something sweet, tangy, complex and festive — something I could at least picture myself sipping on a beach somewhere, even if it was more likely I’d be sipping in front of our wood stove. It was just about this time last year we created the Rhubarb Thyme Tonic. Our Rhubarb Margarita starts with the same rhubarb simple syrup and has a newly invented step that makes this drink a winner — muddling a stalk of raw rhubarb in the shaker first with a tiny bit of sugar & a splash of tequila.
You may be wondering about eating the little bits of muddled raw rhubarb. I was too, so I checked and found out that although the leaves contain oxalic acid and should not be eaten, the stalks, though mouth-puckering sour, are completely edible raw. Rhubarb is so fresh & tender right now, this is your moment. Later in the season, when the stalks may be tougher, you can always strain the muddled bits out, if you prefer.
Let’s start mixing. This recipe is for two drinks since this isn’t the kind of drink you are going to want to drink alone.
Rhubarb Margaritas for 2
4 oz tequila — Charlie uses 2 oz silver & 2 oz gold
1 1/2 oz rhubarb simple syrup (recipe below) or 2 oz if you like yours sweeter
1 1/2 oz triple sec, orange curacao or other orange liquor
Juice of 1/2 lemon & 1/2 lime
1 small stalk of fresh rhubarb
1/2 t sugar
Edible flower garnish — violets, johnny jump-ups
Slice the stalk of rhubarb in 1/4″ slices. Put it in the shaker with sugar and splash of tequila. Muddle it until it’s broken into small bits.
Fill shaker with plenty of ice.
Measure & add the remaining ingredients — tequila, rhubarb simple syrup, orange liquor, lemon & lime juice.
Shake vigorously and pour into chilled glasses. Garnish with edible flowers.
Rhubarb Simple Syrup
8-10 medium stalks of rhubarb
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
Slice rhubarb into 1/2″ slices. Put in a saucepan with sugar and water. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer for 3-5 minutes. Do not stir. Remove from heat and let it sit, undisturbed for 10 minutes. Place in a colander lined with cheesecloth over a bowl. Let it drain into the bowl for 15 minutes or until it has stopped draining. Pour finished syrup into a covered container and refrigerate until you’re ready to use. If you need to cool it quickly, place the bowl into a larger metal bowl filled with ice water.
As the seasons progress, we’ll continue to make variations of this drink — adding strawberries, raspberries, peaches and nectarines, pretty much any local fruit.
But for now, I’m ready to celebrate….spring and my birthday.