The busy garden season has kicked into high gear. We spent our long weekend plowing through our garden planting list, getting in all the final transplants and direct seedings. With changing weather patterns and increasing extreme temperatures, our final frost date here in Wisconsin has felt more unpredictable in recent years. While the last frost historically falls around May 15, last year we dipped below freezing the third week of May and lost our cucumbers.
We now simply remain overly cautious and wait till the end of May to plant. Our temperatures jump quickly in early June, and it seems tomatoes and peppers enter a quick growth spurt, so we don’t really lose much growing time. By Memorial Day weekend, with June lurking around the calendar corner, we feel post-frost safe and jump into a planting marathon to fully kick off the garden.
When dusk hit close to 9 p.m. this past weekend, we definitely felt ready to call it a day. After a hot day in the field, a cold, sweet treat hit the spot. Lisa concocted a cocktail she calls a “Rhubarbsicle,” inspired by the Creamsicle Popsicle, a blending of orange sherbet and ice cream. This grown-up, drinkable version takes our favorite early-garden vegetable, rhubarb, and adds a creamy twist. It may indeed be our new summer favorite!
We use homemade rhubarb syrup a lot in beverages as a flavor base. This recipe is quite forgiving when it comes to quantities and proportions. Harvest a big bunch of rhubarb, stick it in the slow cooker and cover with water. Let it simmer for a few hours (cooking longer only makes the infusion stronger), strain out the rhubarb and add sugar to make a simple syrup, mixing until the sugar dissolves. Lisa typically fills our two slow cookers at once with rhubarb and makes a mega-batch, keeping a pitcher of the syrup in the refrigerator and freezing the rest for the winter.
You can tailor the sweetness of rhubarb syrup just how you like it: The less sugar you add, the more tart it will be. While we typically like our rhubarb syrup on the tart side, we did dress it up a bit sweeter for our Rhubarbsicle Creamy Cocktails, so our drinks could double as dessert. We’re seasoned at rationalizing treats after a physical day of garden work!
Lisa added a plain simple syrup (one part sugar dissolved in one part hot water) to the drink for added sweetness. She keeps the simple syrup in a canning jar in the refrigerator all summer, which works much better when you want to sweeten a beverage, as the sugar already dissolved and you avoid that granular feel. Simple syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Recipe: Rhubarbsicle Creamy Cocktail
Yield: 2 servings
- 1/2 cup rhubarb syrup
- 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup simple syrup
- 1½ ounces rum (one shot)
- 1½ ounces triple sec or any fruit-based liqueur (one shot)
- 8 to 10 ice cubes
Blend all ingredients until foamy. Serve immediately with a lemon balm leaf as garnish.
Get more delicious summer cocktails and homemade sodas: