Around here the best, surest, and most beloved sign of spring is not the greening grass, the cherry blossoms, the daffodils, the lilacs or even The Hunter pushing the envelope with his tomato plants. The most looked for sign of spring is the rhubarb vodka distilling on the counter.
This elixir is simple to make and refreshing to sip – especially on a hot afternoon. I have never served it to anyone who did not like it. In fact, the reactions are all identical: eyes pop out of the head and a slow smile spreads over the face, followed by one word: “Wow!” There is an instant understanding of why I refer to this drink as “kool-aid for adults.”
So, in the interest of creating your own Wow! moments this summer, here is the formula:
Into a large-mouth jar or container, put 1½ pounds fresh rhubarb (cut into small pieces), 1 bottle vodka (the 750 ml size), ¼ cup Gran Marnier (or other orange flavored liqueur), and a simple syrup made up of 6 T. sugar boiled in ¼ cup water until dissolved and cooled. Cover the container and let it steep 10 days to 2 weeks (or until all the color leaches out of the rhubarb.) Then strain the now-flavored vodka into a bottle and discard the solids. We keep ours in the refrigerator so that it is always ready for sipping.
The recipe is forgiving. I don’t always weigh out the rhubarb. Sometimes I use up to 2 pounds per bottle. Don’t sweat the details. But do make sure you whip up a batch (or three.)