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 fresh lemon juice, pineapple juice, and cinnamon. 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, a pound of stalks are diced and heated in a cup of water steeped with a cinnamon stick. Once it’s heated, 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, fresh lemon juice and pineapple juice are added, along with a quart of water.
The punch is delicious (albeit a little sweet—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, make it sparkling by adding club soda, or 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!