Rhubarb cocktails



Rabarbersaft (rhubarb cordial/syrup) is perfect for making wonderful summery cocktails. Surprisingly, even green rhubarb can be used for this recipe, including enormous stalks! Like magic, they will still produce a lovely deep red cordial!

Although rabarbersaft is now popular in Sweden, it is relatively recently that Swedes started to made saft (cordial/syrup) from it. Rhubarb was originally imported into Sweden from Russia and northern China during the 16th century as a medicinal plant. It wasn't until the early 1800s when sugar became more affordable to Swedes that its popularity took off.

Because it is a hardy plant, rhubarb is grown in virtually every Swedish garden. It is especially welcome in the spring as it arrives months ahead of gooseberries, strawberries and other fruits. Technically it is a vegetable, although most people regard it as a fruit and in some parts of America it has been legally classified as a fruit.

Rhubarb goes particularly well with ginger, orange and strawberries. In this recipe I have given it a subtle hint of ginger, but you can omit the ginger if you want. John Duxbury


Recipe summary for rhubarb cordial (syrup)


• Rhubarb varies in tartness, so you may need to adjust the amount of sugar suggested below.
• If desired you could replace the ginger with 4 or 5 cloves.


1 kg (7 cups) rhubarb, rinsed
25 g (1 oz) fresh peeled ginger, finely chopped
50 g (2 oz) crystallised ginger, roughly chopped
300 g (1½ cups) sugar


1. Roughly chop the rhubarb into 2 cm (¾") lengths. Place in a pan, pushing down well.

2. Add the fresh ginger and crystallised ginger and then barely cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Whisk the mixture with a balloon whisk until it is all broken up.

Rhubarb cordial sieved through muslin

4. Sieve the mixture through muslin into a bowl, allowing the mixture to drip through slowly over several hours. (If you try and squeeze it through, the juice will end up cloudy.)

5. Add the juice to a pan with the sugar. Bring to the boil, stirring as you do so. Have a taste and add more sugar if necessary.

6. Pour the mixture into sterilised bottles and store in the fridge until required or freeze in plastic containers.


Have fun creating cocktails using rhubarb cordial (syrup). Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Rhubarb and soda

Rhubarb and soda, a perfect non-alcoholic picnic drink

Rhubarb and soda is a perfect drink for picnics. It is light, summery and alcohol free, so even drivers can enjoy it. Simply add a few ice cubes to a tumbler, quarter fill with rhubarb cordial, top up with soda water and then give the whole mixture a good stir. I always think it tastes better sipped slowly through straws, but that maybe just me!

Rhubarb Bellini

Two glasses of rhubarb Bellini

Rhubarb Bellini is every bit as good as Peach Bellini, its more famous cousin. It is really easy to make: quarter fill a glass with rhubarb cordial, pour in some Prosecco until the glass is about three-quarters full, stir the mixture with a long spoon, top-up with more Prosecco, and serve.

Rhubarb and pear

Follow the above recipe but replace the Prosecco with päroncider (pear cider). Swedish pear cider is widely available in UK supermarkets. For a non-alcoholic version replace the pear cider with Päron Dryck Bubbel (available from IKEA).

Gin and rhubarb

Two glasses of gin and rhubarb

60 ml (2 oz) gin (Bombay Sapphire works well)
45 ml (1½ oz) rhubarb cordial (syrup)
180 ml (6 oz) tonic

Add some ice cubes to a tumbler, add the gin, cordial and most of the tonic, stir, top up with more tonic, and serve.

For larger quantities, half fill a jug with gin, add lots of cordial so that the jug is almost full, give it a stir and then refrigerate. When your guests arrive, pour into tall glasses, top with tonic and ice, stir, and serve.

Rhubarb Martini

A glass of rhubarb Martini garnished with orange

60 ml (2 oz) vodka
45 ml (1½ oz) rhubarb cordial (syrup)
7.5 ml (¼ oz) Cointreau, or another orange liqueur
20-30 ml (¾-1 oz) freshly squeezed lemon juice

Mix the above ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into your glass. Garnish with orange, lemon balm or a strip of lemon zest. 


Rhubarb and aperol cocktail

60 ml (2 oz) gin
45 ml (1½ oz) rhubarb cordial (syrup)
15 ml (½ oz) Aperol
1-2 drops   orange bitters, optional

Aperol is an Italian aperitif which contains rhubarb, along with lots of other ingredients. (Its most common use is to make Aperol Spritz which is served everywhere in Italy. It is made by pouring 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol and 1 part soda over ice and then garnishing with a slice of orange.)

For this cocktail I suggest, mixing the ingredients in a cocktail shaker along with lots of ice and then straining into a glass. Garnish with a thin shaving of rhubarb. (Use a vegetable peeler to shave the rhubarb, but take care because the rhubarb can stain.)

Rhubarb mojito

Two glasses of rhubarb mojito

60 ml (2 oz) rhubarb cordial (syrup)
60 ml (2 oz) white rum
30 ml (1 oz) freshly squeeze lime juice
6-8   mint leaves
    Club soda, to taste

Add the rhubarb cordial, rum, lime juice and mint leaves to a cocktail shaker with lots of ice. Give the mixture a good shake and then strain into a glass containing a few ice cubes. Top with soda and garnish with lime or mint.

Other cocktails

If you come up with other rhubarb cocktail recipes please share them with us! We would love to hear from you.


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John Duxbury
Editor and Founder