Spring Cocktail: Rhubarb, Rosemary & Tequila

{{The following is a guest poster from VIC Board Member JS in the ongoing farmers market-inspired series}}

far more recent rhubarb at the May 18 PSU Market

far more recent rhubarb at the May 18 PSU Market

A few weeks ago, I couldn’t resist a bunch of rhubarb at the farmers market. I’m very much a “farmar” impulse shopper, and that’s a good thing, because it keeps my cooking seasonal and full of interesting surprises. This is highly important for an easily bored person, such as myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I have some market-must-haves, but even those are thrown into the air by what’s in season, what’s on sale (ideally, one and the same) and what’s growing in my own garden. Case in point: greens!

The thing was, it being a few weeks ago, this particular bundle of rhubarb was on the green side, with bursts of soft crimson just beginning to make their way up the stalks. Yet, there I was, staring for multiple minutes and mozying my way around the booth, again and again, deciding slowly between a bunch of beets…or this rhubarb.

Ultimately, it wasn’t the market cashiers and their occasional eyeballs that swayed me; nor was it the people bumping my way as they ‘ooohed and ahhhed’ their own potential dinner plans and open curiosity at what the difference between each type of raab was. (For the record, it’s whatever brassica/green the raab is sprouting & flowering from). I opted for the early rhubarb, and promised myself that I had patience for beets, with three packets of seeds’ worth making their way up in my garden.

rhubarb, rosemary, water, lemon juice, sugar & salt – ready to roast

rhubarb, rosemary, water, lemon juice, sugar & salt – ready to roast

Back to all things green, because that was the intrigue with this first showing of rhubarb. I wanted to accept the challenge, and to embrace the additional sour notes of such a perky, tart vegetable.

Time would tell how much sweetness would prevail – and duh, I knew I could add sugar or maple syrup to mellow it out to my liking. I contemplated coffeecake, compote, or perhaps, a sweet & savoury stir-fry sauce with heaps of ginger, but when it came down to it, I couldn’t resist a sunny day cocktail. I’d gone through a phase a few years ago where I obsessed over flavorful cocktail syrups, homemade shrubs and a never-ending assortment of bitters and tinctures, and then came DIY mixology and fruit liqueurs, true story, as much of the evidence remains on my home bar.  I even got into it while camping, pinching young pine tips and attempting to capture the campfire essence into that evening’s whiskey. Ah, memories.

Showtime came, and I slow-roasted the diced rhubarb with organic cane sugar, lemon juice, water and fresh rosemary. It was on its way for cocktails & mocktails, sparkling, or straight up.

Non-surprisingly, I was inspired by a recipe I found on the internets for a fancypants cocktail by an actual bartender (this wasn’t a pinterest spread, at least...not yet), that I consequently clicked away from and have yet to return to.

So, I decided to wing it – and once the roasted rhubarb & co had cooled, been strained, and bottled – it made its way into a shaker with silver tequila and I do declare it an “officially” lovely Spring cocktail.

For technicality’s sake, I will point out that it’s no margarita, but hey, skip the rosemary, work in the lime, skip the bubbles, break out the hibiscus salt your father-in-law gifted you (okay, if you’re me, but also, I may not be alone on that one) and you could be on your way. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Two recipes below….

Rhubarb-rosemary syrup

Makes enough for 6+ cocktails


  • 1.5 cups rhubarb, cut into large chunks (trim the very ends, top & leaves)

  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon organic cane sugar (feel free to adjust depending on your interest in sweetness)

  • 3/4 cup water

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon or other citrus juice

  • 2 small sprigs of fresh rosemary, cleaned

what to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F

  2. Mix all ingredients together in a baking pan

  3. Bake 25-30 minutes until half the liquid is absorbed, stirring once half-way through

  4. Let cool 20 minutes

  5. Strain

  6. Bottle

  7. Enjoy, perhaps in the the cocktail recipe that follows….

Use within 2 weeks

Springtime cocktail w/ tequila and rhubarb & rosemary syrup

Serves 1, easily doubled


  • 1.5 ounces silver tequila

  • 1 ounce rhubarb-rosemary syrup

  • ½ ounce fresh lemon or lime juice

  • Ice

  • Fresh rosemary for garnish

  • Optional: top with a good splash of seltzer or dry sparkling wine

what to do:

  1. Chill your glass, if ya dig.

  2. Add the tequila, syrup, freshly squeezed juice and ice into a cocktail shaker.

  3. Shake!

  4. Strain into cocktail glass of choice and garnish if ya also dig that

  5. Enjoy!

P.S. I’ve since been to a few farmers markets since this, and rest assure, as you can see from the recent photo a the top – rhubarb is officially pink & lovely.