Strawberry-Rhubarb Cooler

Summertime heralds the return of ripe strawberries and tart rhubarb. These two farmers’ market favorites are often joined together in a strawberry-rhubarb pie, especially in the South. The sweetness and freshness of the ripe strawberries is matched against the tart and slightly tangy flavor of the rhubarb, creating layers of flavor and balancing these different tastes for a true summer treat.

To celebrate the strawberry-rhubarb pie season, make this strawberry-rhubarb cooler to get all of the great flavors of the pie in an ice-filled glass. This will give you a chance to make a few infused liquors to use for other cocktails later which takes only a little bit of time and some extra produce. The rhubarb will be infused into a vodka while the strawberries will flavor a light rum for the drink. To bring the flavor of baking spices used in pies, you can turn to Becherovka, a Czech liquor or digestive that is redolent with the nose and taste of spices. Finally, a little lemon juice will go a long way to harmonizing the drink and marrying the strawberry, rhubarb and spice flavors. 

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Strawberry Rum

Homemade infusions are a simple way to elevate a home cocktail and impress guests. All you have to do is take some time. Because this drink isn’t looking for the deeper and rounder flavors of more aged rums, stick with a light rum that hasn’t spent much time in a barrel. Get an extra carton of strawberries from your favorite purveyor. Then it is a simple series of steps to combine them.

1. Clean and sterilize a wide mouth jar, like a mason jar, by boiling it like you were preparing to can the fruit, or by thoroughly rinsing the glass with white vinegar or high proof alcohol and set aside.

2. Wash, stem and quarter the strawberries and place in the jar.

3. Top the strawberries with enough rum to just cover them – about 375ml or half a bottle in a quart-sized mason jar.

4. Seal the jar and set aside in a cool place away from sunlight.

5. Gently shake the jar once a day, checking to see how much color the rum has taken on.

6. Once the strawberries are white and the rum a deep red (usually takes about a week), strain the infusion through a cheesecloth-lined strainer and return to your jar.

Rhubarb Vodka

The rhubarb vodka takes on the sharp tangy flavors of the rhubarb, accentuating them in the infusion. The process is the same as the strawberry rum in which you wash and sterilize a jar, fill it with cleaned and chopped rhubarb and cover with vodka. After approximately a week, the rhubarb will have lost most of its color and the vodka will be a bright pink, allowing you to strain and store your rhubarb infusion. 

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Strawberry-Rhubarb Cooler

1 oz strawberry rum

.75 oz rhubarb vodka

.75 oz strawberry puree

.5 oz Becherovka

.25 oz lemon juice

1 strawberry

 

Steps:

Combine the first four ingredients in a shaker tin, with two-thirds filled with ice.

Shake vigorously to combine.

Strain the cocktail into a collins glass filled with crushed ice.

Garnish with a strawberry, sliced partly through the center to slip over the rim of the glass, and a rhubarb stalk.

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This drink is tart from the rhubarb with just enough sweetness to bring back the memory of strawberry-rhubarb pie. The Becherovka brings in a hint of spices that you find in all the best pies, while the lemon juice is there to temper the drink’s other flavors. If the drink isn’t sweet enough for you, you can make a strawberry simple syrup using the strawberry sugar the same way that you can make the raspberry simple syrup. What drinks remind you of summer?

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