This is the liqueur of the summer. Simple to make, it is not nearly as sweet as some others and it is perfect for sipping without being cloying. Mix into your favorite cocktail.
By Bowen Close
This recipe is a doozy, and boozy – a boozy doozy? – and if you’re a person, like me, who actually likes flavored alcohol when it tastes like flavors of actual, real-life ingredients, this one’s for you. Get yourself a couple of pounds of rhubarb, abundant at our markets these days and perhaps abundant in your yard, your neighbor’s yard, your grandmother’s yard, etc. etc., then submerge it in alcohol with a bit of sugar and orange and in a few weeks, you’ll be set for summer host gifts and picnic contributions and those evenings that require just one more sip of summer before heading to bed.
I originally made this rhubarb liqueur because I bought a couple of big bunches or rhubarb not remembering that we were about to head out of town. So I chopped it up, mixed it together with a bit of sugar and orange liqueur and a whole bunch of vodka, and let it sit for a full month before opening it again. We started drinking it this week, and on more than one occasion have proclaimed it the drink of the summer. Even better than the color (a gorgeous, sunset-like pale pink just beginning to hint at orange undertones) is the aroma, fresh and tart, which leads me to say things like “the essence of garden rhubarb.” (Not sure when I started talking like that, or if I’ve ever even smelled rhubarb in a garden, but you get the point.)
This liqueur is not nearly as sweet as some others that we’ve made, perfect for sipping without being cloying, but also tart enough that to mix it with soda water or in a cocktail may require a bit of additional simple syrup or other sweetener. I’m looking forward to using it in cocktails, particularly a strong, lime-heavy rhubarb gimlet or maybe in a radler with beer, lemonade, and soda water.
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup warm water
- 6 cups vodka
- ½ cup orange liqueur
- 1-2 lbs. rhubarb, washed and chopped/sliced into ½?-1½? segments
- In a large (1/2 gallon) jar or other container, first mix together the sugar and warm water until the sugar is at least mostly dissolved.
- Add the vodka and orange liqueur and stir or shake to combine. Add the rhubarb, cover the container, and leave it at room temperature for 2-4 weeks, shaking the container to mix it up every few days.
- Strain out the rhubarb after that time and store in a closed container at room temperature.
Bowen Close believes that food should make people happy and healthy, and loves bringing together people with creative, delicious food made from the heart. She loves making farm-inspired, flavorful dishes with sustainable ingredients - whether that's a big plate of roasted veggies, a towering chocolate layer cake, or a cocktail utilizing backyard ingredients - and collects recipes and other food-related stories on her website, Bowen Appétit. She is a chef, cooking instructor, and food writer living in Southern California with her husband and fully stocked pantry.