Rhubarb Punch | A Refreshing Summer Sipper
This past weekend, when the temperature finally rose to those 80-degree numbers we’ve been waiting for, all I wanted to do was sit on the porch and enjoy the sunshine. Did you feel the same way? Anticipating the mid-afternoon heat-swoon that sometimes sends me indoors, I planned ahead by hauling a small fan onto the porch with me, along with a batch of homemade rhubarb punch. This pretty pink drink is just right for summer—it’s both tart and sweet and refreshingly cold, and the rhubarb flavor is perfectly balanced with club soda for a less-sweet punch, or fresh lemon juice and pineapple juice for something sweeter. Both it and the fan kept me comfortable and cool for hours, enjoying the hum of a perfect summer Sunday.
Rhubarb is a favorite seasonal ingredient at the start of summer, usually paired with its sweet and fruity friend, the strawberry. Technically the rhubarb is a vegetable, but its long and slender stalks, naturally very tart, are frequently cooked with sugar to sweeten them up before making their way into jams, pies, crisps, and other desserts.
For this rhubarb punch, which has been adapted from a recipe that first ran in June, 1988, the stalks are diced and heated water. Once it’s ready, the liquid is strained (I think I may have let my rhubarb “cook” a wee bit too long!), sweetened with sugar, and stored in the fridge to chill.
Then, you can either combine the syrup with club soda or a combination of fresh lemon juice and pineapple juice (plus extra of water) for a sweeter, fruitier punch.
The punch is delicious (albeit a little sweet if you go the lemon/pineapple route like I did—take advantage of the melting ice cubes to help dilute the sweetness while you sip), and perfect for a hot summer afternoon. If you like, kick it up to something celebratory by adding a little rum, vodka, or champagne. Garnishes are also an option for more flavor. I added a sprig of mint to my glass (because mint and summer drinks are made for each other), but you could also add a twist of lemon, fresh strawberry, or even an edible pansy.
What’s your favorite summer drink? Is it an iced coffee? Root beer float? Raspberry Lime Rickey? Lemonade? Let us know in the comments!