Cocktails/ Recipe/ Spring

Obsessed & Professed: Sparkling Rhubarb Shrub

I’m a strong flavour kinda gal. And a little bit obsessed. And not just with Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

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Bold, grainy or creamy cheeses, lots of citrus, confit of pretty much anything including duck, rabbit, garlic, what have you.

When it comes to a meal, I want my taste buds to be totally surprised and engaged… Kind of like a good wedding proposal. A solid marriage between sweet, sour, bitter, spicy and salty/umami. But first, all of those elements and the energy that went into creating them, even if perfectly balanced in a dish, are utterly wasted if the foundation lacks quality. And by foundation, I mean the raw ingredients.  The elements before we manipulate them and they come together to create a finished meal that are more than the sum of their parts… Before they morph into something totally delicious.

Rhubarb Shrub Cocktail -

That’s why I get my food from the farmer’s market and a CSA box program. Sure it’s good for the environment and better for our local economy to patronize the farmers in my area who practice perma-culture and organic growing methods. There are a lot of good reasons to shop small scale, locally organic and seasonal. But ultimately my choice to eat regionally appropriate food is a selfish one: It tastes fucking amazing.

Rhubarb Shrub Cocktail -

I remember the first time I tried real garlic. And how generous and kind the producers were. Just ask to taste a leaf of farm fresh arugula vs. store bought and you’ll be convinced. Or farm fresh garlic that’s just been harvested vs. the mass produced Chinese garlic at the supermarket. Or spoon Joseph Gordon-Levitt, err, I mean… Uhh..  a jar of local, organically grown preserves or honey and compare them to the overly processed, sugary, preservative-laden and “natural flavor” added bottles at the store. They just can’t compete.

Thankfully the first farmer’s market of the season starts today in Vancouver. And that means flavour city, population me, bro.

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When it comes to the better half of the meal – the drinks – I like them strong too. Boozy, flavourful and bold. And like food, the foundation you begin with is paramount to enjoying the finished concoction. I think of it like sex: The better quality you have, the less you need.

Okay, that’s not true. The better quality it is, the more you need. Both for sex and with delicious things you put in your mouth. But I couldn’t think of anything clever to say there. Except sex. And everyone likes to talk about sex.

Point being: If you spring for the good stuff your pleasure will be infinitely higher and you’ll be a much happier person. True of drinks, true of food, true of sex. Ah-ha! It worked that time…

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Now put your hands together – fresh, local, organically grown delicious produce + alcohol. And by god, you have yourself the makings of a pretty decent par-tay.

That’s what I base my column on in Edible Vancouver – drinking local, ethically grown produce. It’s also the inspiration I drew upon for this gem of a drink.

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The base is a delicious, simple recipe for a rhubarb shrub (aka drinking vinegar), chased with simple soda water. You can read the full history of shrubs (or at least as much as you need to know) at The Kitchn. But here’s the gist: Shrubs are basically a way to preserve produce from colonial times, resulting in drinking vinegar.

Fruit or veg. Sugar. Vinegar. Perhaps some flavour enhancers like herbs, citrus and/or spices. And a little bit of time in the fridge for the flavours to develop, mingle and become something truly spectacular and reflective of the growing season.

Something special.

I know, I can see your adorable button nose crinkling at the idea of actually ingesting vinegar for leisure. But here’s the thing about shrubs:

  1. They’re super delicious and refreshing;
  2. They’re good for your gut and thus make tequila or bourbon or gin or vodka (choose your poison) totally healthy;
  3. They’re what all the cool kids are drinking so if you’ve been scouring for a way to break into the Hipster scene, this is your gateway drug.

Rhubarb Shrub Cocktail -

I prefer mine with a couple shots of alcohol but you don’t have to; Virgin shrubs are almost as fun as boozy ones. Especially when rhubarb is involved. Partly because rhubarb is tartly wonderful, partly because when the CSA box shows up, it’s difficult to know what to do with all the rhubarb. You know, short of make a pretty amazing oatmeal, crumble, coffee cake, rhubarb pickles or cheesecake honey’d rhubarb sauce. Or draw from any one of The Food Blogger’s of Canada fairly delicious collection of rhubarb beverage recipes, rhubarb strawberry combos, and sweet & savoury rhubarb recipes.

Whoa. Okay, I stand corrected; There’s lots of things you can do with fresh Spring rhubarb.

So all that being said, is it just me or is rhubarb kind of a thing this year?

Rhubarb Shrub Cocktail -

I’m not bragging or anything (okay maybe a little bit) but my cocktail – The Rhuby Tom – made the cover of Edible Vancouver this issue and I’m clearly not the first person to come up with a recipe for rhubarb shrubs. In fact, I’ve listed 8 other rhubarb shrub concoctions below my recipe that I think you’ll enjoy. And totally drool over. And become utterly obsessed with. Now between those 8, my 1 and the shruberiffic book by Michael Dietsch, Shrubs (thank you for introducing me to this stellar book Jayme!), you now have 10 good reasons to drink your rhubarb this season, shrub style.

Sparkling Rhubarb Shrub

Yield 4 drinks


  • 1 Lb fresh rhubarb, sliced into 1/4" pieces
  • 3/4 C organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 C white wine vinegar
  • 2 C soda water
  • Optional: 4-8 shots good quality silver tequila like PatrΓ³n (depending how boozy you want your drinks)
  • To garnish: Limes, fresh mint and/or additional rhubarb


  1. Place rhubarb and sugar into a bowl and toss well to combine. Using a muddler or potato masher, grind it all together. This helps speed the maceration process along. Cover and place in the fridge for about 3 days.
  2. After 3 days, remove the mixture from the fridge and strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve. If there's any leftover sugar on the rhubarb solids, just place a second bowl under the strainer and pour the liquid back over the rhubarb to get all the sugar remnants. You may want to squeeze/press on the rhubarb to ensure all the liquid is extracted.
  3. Pour liquid into a dry, clean mason jar and add vinegar. Cover and shake vigorously to combine. Place in the fridge for 1 week to allow the flavours to mingle. Shake occasionally.
  4. After a week, pour 1-2 shots of good quality tequila into a glass along with 1 shot of rhubarb shrub. Fill the glass with ice and top with soda water. Serve with a wedge of lime, some fresh mint or rhubarb stalk.
  5. Drink.


Save the rhubarb solids! I slather them on French toast or over granola come the weekend.


Other Rhubarb Shrubs Worth Guzzling:

Have you made shrubs before? Do you infuse flavors for dishes? Do you enjoy strong or more subtle flavours? What’s in your glass right now? Do you like rhubarb? What are you obsessed with?


  • Jacqueline Gum
    May 11, 2015 at 3:22 AM

    Rhubarb has been a favorite of mine since I was a child. Of course, I had fresh from the garden on my grandfather’s farm, so I’ve been spoiled. I’ll have to give those a try! Our farmer’s market just opened a few weeks ago too!
    Jacqueline Gum recently published…Motherless Mother’s Day… Where’s The Justice?My Profile

  • Becky
    May 11, 2015 at 5:30 AM

    It’s watermelon marg season. Or maybe mint julep. Or mojito.

    I made a shrub once – it was a cranberry one and it ended up making that bottle of overly sweet moscato someone thoughtfully gave me drinkable. My main drinking buddy didn’t care for it too much, I so tend to stick to what we can drink together. With the current stash of ice cream my girl has in the freezer, all rhubarb must be baked into something delightful to pair with. I am allowed to pickle a small amount every year, which goes into tuna salads all year long.
    Becky recently published…Recent Dinner SuccessesMy Profile

  • Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets
    May 12, 2015 at 2:59 AM

    I was checking out a new shop in downtown Cleveland and it’s devoted entirely to shrubs. I got to try a couple too. It was very cool. I love everything about this. Thanks for sharing.

    Also, yes to local produce.

  • Marlene
    May 12, 2015 at 11:46 AM

    I’ve been curious about shrubs for some time, and now I have no excuse for not making some! What a super-fine looking drink and another great idea to enjoy rhubarb to the max.
    Marlene recently published…Keeping Bacon Lovers & The Cook Happy ☆ Oven-Roasted BaconMy Profile

  • Tara
    May 12, 2015 at 12:32 PM

    Drinking vinegar…hmm, I’m not so sure. I’ve had pretty awful luck with apple cider vinegar shots in the past so I am admittedly wary. However, they’re really, really pretty and that makes me want to drink them.

    Lately I’ve had the urge to infuse tequila (my poison of choice) with jalapeno and mix it with cilantro (from my garden! aren’t you proud?) and lime juice. I think it has the potential to either be really good, or really awful. If all else fails, I could throw the whole thing in the food processor with an avocado and make some boozy guac instead.

  • Kristen @ The Endless Meal
    May 12, 2015 at 2:00 PM

    Ha ha when I read your line about the better the quality the less you need I was like, “what the f??” I actually had to read it twice cause I thought I missed something. Then I read on, and of course it all made sense. πŸ™‚

    It’s a bit ridic but I have yet to make a shrub. How has that happened? I’m off to find some rhubarb today!
    Kristen @ The Endless Meal recently published…Grilled Mustard Chicken with Creamy Walnut SauceMy Profile

  • Julia (@Imagelicious)
    May 15, 2015 at 3:03 PM

    This looks really delicious and the combination of tequila and rhubarb sounds very interesting

  • Suki
    May 15, 2015 at 6:42 PM

    happy long weekend and great recipe πŸ™‚ perfect for summer
    Suki recently published…Ambur Mutton BiryaniMy Profile

  • Kirsten
    May 16, 2015 at 8:17 AM

    My spouse is just not a rhubarb fan due to a traumatic childhood growing up next to a prolific and generous gardener, but I think even he could get behind drinking his rhubarb.
    This looks wonderful!
    Kirsten recently published…Spiced Cottage Cheese Chip DipMy Profile

  • Shareba @ In Search Of Yummy-ness
    May 16, 2015 at 9:54 AM

    Congrats on having your photo on the cover of Edible Vancouver! WHOO!
    Shareba @ In Search Of Yummy-ness recently published…Ricardo’s Grilled Beef Ribs with Cola Sauce & a Mothers Day StormMy Profile

  • erin {yummy supper}
    May 20, 2015 at 9:06 AM

    Three cheers for rhubarb shrubs! Yours looks awesome. I do wish we could have brought our shrubs together and shared glasses of each in the real world. Wouldn’t that be fun?
    Hope you’re well lovely lady!
    erin {yummy supper} recently published…NETTLE OMELET WITH SPRING ONIONMy Profile

  • Jayme Henderson
    May 23, 2015 at 6:46 PM

    I have my rhubarb, along with some strawberries, macerating on my counter top right now! Super stoked to try this. And you know I am already obsessed with shrubs. #shrubsisters Happy weekending to you! πŸ˜‰
    Jayme Henderson recently published…the apricot stinger cocktail | hello, springMy Profile

  • Shareba @ In Search Of Yummy-ness
    March 18, 2016 at 12:23 PM

    I came over to comment and then realized that I already had. Ha! What can I say, I’m always drawn in by your pretty photos πŸ™‚

  • Bernice
    March 18, 2016 at 1:04 PM

    Spring is a-coming along…and so is my rhubarb! I think I’ve already pinned this but will double check.
    Bernice recently published…20 Minute Instapot Meatballs and SpaghettiMy Profile

  • Janice
    March 18, 2016 at 1:18 PM

    So pretty and so spring. I “almost” don’t want to drink it. “Almost”, hehe πŸ˜‰
    Janice recently published…Vanilla cake and milk chocolate frostingMy Profile

  • Teresa
    March 18, 2016 at 1:31 PM

    I am feeling SO impatient for rhubarb season to start. My plant is taking its time…

    Even though I’ve got some in my garden, I still feel I never have enough to try every recipe I’d like – sweet foods, savoury foods, drinks, compotes and jams – I can’t get enough. Your recipe sounds wonderful and it’s on my very long list.
    Teresa recently published…Glass Jars and CreamMy Profile

  • Sean
    March 18, 2016 at 3:53 PM

    I love shrubs! I love rhubarb! I love this piece! Man, this just looks so… SO friggin’ good. My rhubarb is going nuts in the yard, and mint is plotting a coup in several regions of the garden, so I’m seriously thinking that this needs to happen. Admittedly I think we’re a few climate zones away from growing sugar cane, but still.

  • Justine @
    March 19, 2016 at 10:35 AM

    These shrubs sound divine! I absolutely love rhubarb and it grows like crazy in my Grandma’s garden. Looks like I’m going to have to make a trip over there this spring and harvest some for these cocktails. I’ll report back when I try them. Yes to eating (and drinking) as locally as possible! Cheers and have a great weekend, Kristy!
    Justine @ recently published…MY 1ST BLOGIVERSARY + 10 THINGS I LEARNED IN MY FIRST YEAR OF BLOGGINGMy Profile

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