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A&E >  Food

Dorothy Dean Presents: Rhubarb-basil cocktail is refreshing and pretty

 (Audrey Alfaro)
(Audrey Alfaro)
By Audrey Alfaro For The Spokesman-Review

Like sunglasses, a refreshing drink is a summer essential. And one packed with flavors straight from your garden makes it all the more delicious and fun to serve.

This rhubarb-basil cocktail is the kind of drink I crave this time of year. It’s light, well-balanced and fresh – just what these balmy days call for. And it doesn’t hurt that it looks pretty, too.

If your garden is anything like mine, I’m sure there’s no shortage of rhubarb or basil. And isn’t it so rewarding to eat, drink and share something created out of your own garden? Don’t have a garden? Out of the produce section from your local grocers or fresh from the farmers market would be just as tasty, too.

Now, I’ve only baked with rhubarb. And the thought of drinking it makes my face pucker. But when simmered into a simple syrup, the tartness is sweetly balanced out. And the fresh muddled basil adds a light aromatic flavor and earthiness, making vodka the perfect canvas to showcase the pairing. Throw in some ice and club soda, and you my friend have created the most delicious, effervescent, summertime drink.

If you’re not a fan of vodka, use gin instead. Coconut rum would also be a tasty substitute.

When making the rhubarb syrup, don’t throw away the leftover solids. They can be used on toast, ice cream or stirred into yogurt or oatmeal.

Or, heck, just eat it with a spoon.

Rhubarb-Basil Cocktail

Adapted from

3 basil leaves, rolled and cut into thin strips

3 tablespoons rhubarb syrup

1 1/2 ounces vodka


Club soda

Place basil in the bottom of cocktail glass and use the back of a spoon to bruise slightly. Add the rhubarb syrup and vodka and stir. Add ice cubes and top with club soda. Serve garnished with a basil leaf and rhubarb, if desired.

Yield: one cocktail.

Rhubarb Syrup

6 cups of rhubarb, cleaned and chopped

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Place rhubarb, sugar and water in a medium sauce pan and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, 35 to 40 minutes. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl to let the syrup run through. Stir gently to expedite the process. Let cool before using. Rhubarb syrup will keep for two weeks in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

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