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Local Libations: Rhubarb in the Rye

2011 May 27

By Sarah A. Maine

Rhubarb-in-the-Rye-IngredientsUpon encountering Brianna’s Blue Quintini Cocktail I experienced a small measure of anxiety. I was fascinated by the inclusion of blue cheese stuffed olives but my limited cocktail making experience made it hard for me to see how I could use those savory tidbits to my advantage.  I decided to relay off the vermouth. In need of some other liquid building blocks I turned to the Internet which, after some searching, pointed me in the direction of rye whiskey and ginger ale.   It was time to dive in to cocktail making – the first step: collecting the ingredients.

CLICK HERE for the full post and recipe.

I bought a bottle of Tuthilltown Spirits’ Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey, made in Gardiner, NY.  For my vermouth, I opted for Dolin Blanc, a decision that was not without some struggle. California-made Vya appears to be the lone citizen of the American vermouth category, and there are no commercially available organic vermouths (yet!). In the absence of a local or organic option I went with the French vermouth for two reasons: I like the taste of Dolin Blanc, and trans-Atlantic shipping has a lower carbon footprint than cross country trucking. The next tough choice – ginger ale. As Andrew discovered for a previous cocktail – local ginger ale is hard to find in these parts. I went the organic route and chose Oogave, which is lightly sweetened with agave nectar.

I thought I was done but the New York Spring had other plans for me. Out of the gray wet haze that has blanketed the city for the past week glowed blood-red rhubarb and strawberries at Maxwell’s farm stand. There was no way to resist the shock of color and the promise of sweetness, I purchased a healthy portion of each. On the way home I shifted the plan for my drink, I would still use vermouth as the relay element but I would incorporate it into a strawberry rhubarb compote to use as a garnish.

Not being a huge fan of fruity drinks, I was very careful about keeping the sugar content down in my compote. I used three tablespoons of raw honey to take the edge off, but I was counting on the tartness of the rhubarb to act as a counterpoint to the sweetness of both the ginger ale and the rye. This strawberry rhubarb cocktail is my mini homage to the first sweetness of Spring.

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 2-3 cups


  • 6 stalks of rhubarb, sliced
  • 10 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Dolin vermouth
  • 3 Tbs raw wildflower honey

Cooking Directions:

  1. Wash and slice the rhubarb and strawberries.
  2. Place the rhubarb in a pot with 1/4 cup vermouth and 3 Tbs raw honey. Bring to a simmer over a low flame, stirring occasionally until the rhubarb softens and starts to fall apart, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the sliced strawberries, stir and allow to simmer for another 10 minutes until the strawberries are broken down, stir to break up any remaining clumps of fruit, remove from the flame.
  4. Allow the compote to cool, store in the fridge to use as a garnish for drinks, a topping for yogurt or ice cream, or mix with seltzer for a refreshing spritzer.

Rhubarb in the Rye

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Yield: 1 serving
Tools: oz measurement, cocktail shaker or mixing glass, spoon.


  • 1 oz rye whiskey
  • 4 oz ginger ale
  • 1 Tbs strawberry rhubarb compote


  1. Add a handful of ice to a cocktail shaker or mixing glass.
  2. Add 1 oz rye whiskey
  3. Add 4 oz ginger ale
  4. Stir.
  5. Strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass.
  6. Add 1 Tbs strawberry rhubarb compote and garnish with a slice of fresh strawberry.
  7. Raise a glass to Spring and invite the sun to start shining.



Sarah Maine is a Co-Founder and Editor of RecipeRelay. She would like to know how you use the first fruit of spring to brighten rainy days.

  • AllisonRadecki

    Sarah,  THIS drink is how I want to herald the arrival of summer!  

    The Rhubarb in the Rye looks delicious!  I cannot wait to make it– not to mention some blue cheese stuffed olives too.  Today, as I prepare to go play a game of bocce at the local, outdoor court– I am making a fine sangria with my first watermelon purchase of the season (…as well as some apples and cantaloupe).   Three cheers for summertime fruits!

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