Rhubarb Syrup & Two Cocktails ❊ Spring Tonic

The heat is back in Southwestern Ontario and a nice cocktail or a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage made from Rhubarb Syrup may be a welcome refreshment after a long day. Why not try a Rhubarb G&T, a Rhubarb & Lime Gin Fizz, or simply add that syrup to a glass of cold, bubbly water?

As always, drink responsibly.

It’s Rhubarb Season

It’s that glorious, burgeoning, green time of year and we’re all itching to get into the garden if we haven’t already. A sure sign of spring is the rhubarb first poking its red heads through the soil and then unfurling elephantine green leaves, slender red stalks a flash of colour. It’s the first crop of the  new growing season, and if you’re lucky enough to have some maybe you’ve already been able to plunder it, depending on where you live.

I’m thinking back to 2012 when a friend gave us a clump in the fall that we planted next to the fence, and how eager I was to harvest the next year’s crop. Early on I couldn’t resist cutting a few stalks, but wanted them to mature more before taking any more. I augmented the freshly picked stalks with the last of the rhubarb I’d frozen the previous year and made a rhubarb syrup.

A deep blushing pink, it’s sweet with a hint of rhubarb’s mouth-puckering tang. It would be lovely drizzled over ice cream, added to a glass of fizzy water or incorporated into a cocktail as I did today.

And, once the syrup has been made, don’t throw away the pulpy remainders which are,  in fact, a simple compote. It would be good on ice cream (in my books pretty much everything is good on ice cream), spread on toast or added to muffins. I don’t have a photo of it because I ate it once I put the syrup in the fridge to cool (cook’s treat).

Rhubarb Syrup

The essence of simplicity, all you need to do to make one cup of rhubarb syrup is chop 2 cups of rhubarb, put it in a pan with 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar, and heat over low heat until the rhubarb has cooked down. Press it through a sieve, and voila!

You can control the sweetness level by adding the sugar in stages. I found the syrup just a bit sweet for my taste; I noticed that my frozen rhubarb wasn’t as tart as the fresh, so that might be the reason. Nonetheless, next time I’ll start with 1/3 cup sugar, taste after the rhubarb is cooked down and adjust to my liking.

Rhubarb Cocktails

A rhubarb cocktail is a refreshing way to celebrate the arrival of spring. Here are two very simple ones that I made, variations on the classic Gin and Tonic, my all-time summer favourite.

Rhubarb G&T

Toss a few ice cubes in a rocks glass. Pour over one jigger of gin and one of rhubarb syrup. Top up with tonic water. Easy peasy; you’ll be toasting your rhubarb crop in no time.

Rhubarb & Lime Gin Fizz

If you’re feeling a little fancier, or just want to tone your upper arms by using the shaker, you might want to make this version of the cocktail. Put a scoop of ice cubes in a shaker, add equal parts gin and rhubarb syrup and spritz in a good squeeze of lime juice. Shake, shake, shake, then pour into a glass and top with tonic water. Garnish with a lime slice.

More Beverage Ideas

If you need to wet your whistle, here are two more refreshing non-alcoholic beverages and one more cocktail: Iced Strawberry Smoothie, Rhubarb-Infused Water, and the Lake Huron Breeze, a strawberry and gin cocktail.

First Published 2013 05 11
Republished 2020 06 02


  1. i am absolutely obsessed with rhubarb and go a little nuts every spring when i can get my hands on some! love rhubarb simple syrup mixed with a little vodka and sparkling water!

  2. So this is where we part ways, Mar? I’m sorry to say that rhubarb and I don’t agree. I’m sure the syrup and cocktails are both delicious and refreshing but just not for me. Not to worry. I’m not one to hold a grudge. I’ll be sure to pass this link along to my rhubarb-lovin’ friends. 🙂

    • Ha! I seem to recall you had the same reaction last year to my rhubarb compote, so at least you get points for consistency! Don’t worry, I’ll try to keep the rhubarb recipes down to the bare minimum over the next few weeks.

      Funny how even those of us who ‘eat everything’ have an aversion to one or two things. For me it’s capers. I once threw away a whole batch of tonnato because of that. I keep thinking I have to give them another try, but so far haven’t gone there. Too much of a scaredy cat, I guess 😊

    • Indeed! Funny how I hit upon a nice warm weather cocktail and then the cold weather rolled right back in. We had something for everyone here yesterday: sun, rain, sleet, snow, hail, thunder and wind. Well, everything except warm temperatures!

  3. I just love the rhubarb,flavour colour and the original tartness it has …what a great drink this makes Mar…nice photos…can’t wait to have one on the beach.

  4. I used to freeze rhubarb & then serve it over ice cream when we had rhubarb in the garden but haven’t made it since we moved. But the rhubarb syrup sounds good – love the pink color too!?!

  5. I love how you’re growing your own rhubarb. My mother used to do that and I should do it too! I make rhubarb syrup. Like you say, it’s great in drinks. It goes well with mineral water if you don’t want too much gin! xx

    • I think rhubarb is one of the easiest things to grow. Once you put it in the ground, it just keeps looking after itself, year after year. I definitely will try the syrup in water too (the gin is a special treat!).

    • If you have too much rhubarb to use right now, just wash it, chop it, spread on cookie sheets so the individual pieces don’t stick together and freeze them. Then store in airtight freezer bags. You’ll be glad to have it handy later on!

      • Thanks for the tip! I’ve just got it all sorted – it’s exciting to know that rhubarb puddings and things will be possible through the coming months 🙂

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