Photo by Judith Hausman
I’m not much of a cocktail drinker, but there are a few days each summer, a few of those 90-degree-plus days, such as the ones we are suddenly having in New York at the moment, where long, cool drinks in frosty glasses appeal to me. But how to drink local?
Since I already had some Hudson Valley vodka and rye, I began to think of a few other local cocktail ingredients that would be ready this time of year. I considered mint for mojitos or the first strawberries for a daiquiri. Then, I remembered the pale pink rhubarb already in my fridge. I had unfortunately overcooked it, so it was more liquid and less chunky than I usually go for. The light went on — that delicate sauce was just the thing to spike.
I poked around for cocktail ideas and saw that one could cook rhubarb with sugar and then push the cooked rhubarb thru a sieve to remove the pulp. I left mine pulpy, but it certainly needed sugar in some form. I also saw a prosecco combination that sounded lovely, but that would have meant opening a whole new bottle. I don’t care for gin, which was another option, so that left the local vodka. I kept it easy — hence the cocktail’s name.
- 5 stalks of rhubarb, destrung (if necessary) and chopped
- 1/2 cup sugar
- water or orange juice (as needed)
- 2 ounces vodka
Over low heat, cook rhubarb with sugar, adding a little water or orange juice if the rhubarb appears too dry or starts to scorch. Stir occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the rhubarb is quite soft and mushy.
Purée and, if desired, push thru a strainer. Spoon about 1 ounce of the rhubarb sauce over ice cubes or chipped ice in a tall glass, pour vodka and stir.
You can make the drink sweeter by adding superfine sugar, or you can stretch it with some seltzer. Garnish with a berry or a sprig of mint.
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