Rhubarb vermouth: the drink of summer / by Leslie Seaton

This is really more of a guideline than hard and fast recipe. It's adapted from one by Seattle-based Maggie Savarino, author of The Seasonal Cocktail Companion  It's not in that book, but I saw her demonstrate it one spring at a Book Larder event.

After the class, it was summer, and the recipe was seasonally appropriate, so I continued to make and drink it throughout the warm days as my sunny cocktail of choice. I couldn’t get enough of its tart and bright flavor or its lovely pink color.

Maggie recommends drinking this mixed with tonic; I actually like it straight. She called it a “boat drink” because its lower alcohol content means you can drink it all day long without getting quite as hammered.

Of course, as we all know, in fall, it can – rather abruptly – stop being rhubarb weather, and ergo, is also no longer rhubarb vermouth weather.

But one year I tried a batch with frozen vermouth and you know what? It worked pretty well. So now I might just continue to drink this when the mood strikes as a way to bring a sunny flavor to the dark days of winter.

So here’s what I’ve been doing to make this drink. You might be more concerned with seasonality and less accepting of frozen rhubarb, in which case, bookmark this until spring. But give it a try and you might find yourself as enamored of this drink as I am.

One note on the booze to use: I thought I would see if I could economize and use a much cheaper vermouth (Lejon) than the Dolin I’d been using all summer. There’s about a $9 price difference per bottle ($6 vs $15 at my local store). That’s a big difference.

But I ran a taste test and unfortunately the Dolin is significantly better. Much more complex and herbal. That said, it’s not like the Lejon rhubarb vermouth was bad, per se. Just that I’d recommend if you are going to go the cheap route, start there so that you don’t taste what you’re missing!

As mentioned, this is more of a guideline. Maggie's version included kumquats and thyme sprigs. Think of your own combinations to experiment with!

Rhubarb Vermouth

Adapted from recipe by Maggie Savarino

  • 1 bottle of dry vermouth (per above, I like Dolin)
  • 1.5-2 cups chopped rhubarb
  • Zest of two oranges
  • Handful of fresh mint
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a clean, sterilized jar that you can shake.
  2. Keep in the fridge for a few days, agitating every day.
  3. Watch for the liquid to become a pretty pink color, and taste it until it reaches a flavor you enjoy.
  4. Once you like it, strain out the solid through a fine mesh sieve into clean sterilized bottle(s). (If you are giving as a gift and really want it to be clear and pretty, I recommend lining the sieve with double layer of cheesecloth.)
  5. Drink and enjoy.