The rhubarb has come into season now. We don’t have enough room for a rhubarb crown in the garden, but when I was a kid, my parents had a large patch of it, the centre of which lurked under an upturned metal bucket in the early spring to force the pink stems. Gorgeous stuff, and I picked up a muddy armful at the market to make cake with this week, then found I had plenty left over. What better to do with it than turn it into a gorgeous pale-pink liqueur?
Here, much like the sloes in sloe gin, the rhubarb steeps for a couple months in sugar and alcohol, giving up its flavour and colour. I’ve also added ginger (rhubarb’s natural friend) and the zest of a lemon to the pot for extra zing. I’m afraid you’re going to have to restrain yourself for a couple of months before this is drinkable, but it’s well worth the wait.
For every litre of vodka you use, you’ll need:
300g caster sugar
3 inches of ginger root
Zest of one lemon
Pour the sugar into the bottom of a large jar (it should have at least double the capacity of the amount of vodka you’re using, and be airtight). Clean the rhubarb and slice it into 1-inch chunks and put it in the jar on top of the sugar. Slice the ginger (no need to remove the skin) into coins, and toss it in along with the zest of a lemon, pared carefully with a knife into wide strips.
Pour over the vodka, shake or stir well, and seal the jar up. Leave it at room temperature (it’ll be fine sitting on a shelf in the kitchen) for two months, at which point the rhubarb will look disgusting and grey, having given up all its juice and colour to the now pink vodka. Strain the mixture through a sieve lined with muslin into bottles. This liqueur is even better if you leave the finished bottles to mature for six months or so, but can be also drunk immediately.