Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Gin Cocktails

Rhubarb & Strawberry Collins

Rhubarb & Strawberry Collins cocktail in a collins class over ice, with a red straw and lemon wheel / Tim Nusog

Warmer temperatures, longer days and blooming flowers are all signs that spring has arrived. But acclaimed bartender Naren Young says that, for him, nothing heralds the new season quite like rhubarb’s long, spindly stalks. These welcome sights foretell better weather, but they also give enterprising bartenders a fresh ingredient to use in drinks.

Raw rhubarb is commonly cooked down with sugar and used in pies and other desserts. But that same method can be used to create a rhubarb syrup for drinks like Young’s Rhubarb & Strawberry Collins.

In addition to the syrup, this recipe features gin or vodka (your choice), Aperol, fresh lemon juice, strawberry juice and a topper of club soda. Using gin will create a more flavorful drink punched up with gin’s dry and botanical character, while vodka is more neutral and will let the other flavors shine. Aperol is an Italian aperitivo best known for its use in the Aperol Spritz. Aperol has notes of orange, gentian and rhubarb and is like a tamer version of Campari.

The DIY rhubarb syrup is essentially a rhubarb-laced simple syrup that you make by simmering sugar, water and chopped rhubarb in a pot on the stove. That, plus strawberry juice, sweeten the drink, while fresh lemon juice provides necessary acidity for balance. Finally, club soda lengthens and dilutes the strong flavors and gives each sip a refreshing, bubbly bite.

Since you already scored some rhubarb for this recipe, you might as well use those stalks for the garnish, too. Young suggests soaking the stalks in a pickling liquid of raspberry vinegar, sugar, coriander and pink peppercorns. Apply these pickled stalks as a garnish, and you’ll have a crunchy snack between sips.


  • 1 1/2 ounces gin or vodka

  • 1/2 ounce Aperol

  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed

  • 3/4 ounce rhubarb syrup*

  • 1/2 ounce strawberry juice

  • Club soda, chilled, to top

  • Garnish: lemon wheel

  • Garnish: pickled rhubarb stalk**


  1. Add the gin or vodka, Aperol, lemon juice, rhubarb syrup and strawberry juice to a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.

  2. Strain into a highball glass over fresh ice.

  3. Top with club soda.

  4. Garnish with a lemon wheel and a pickled rhubarb stalk.

*Rhubarb ​s​yrup​: Add ​2 quarts water, 8 cups sugar and 4 cups roughly chopped rhubarb ​in​to a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring until​ ​sugar dissolves. Cook for 5 minutes more, turn of​f​ heat and let cool. Strain out solids. Will keep, tightly covered and refrigerated, for up to ​1​ month.

**Pickled ​r​hubarb​ stalk​​: Toast ​2 tablespoons coriander seeds and ​3 tablespoons pink ​peppercorns for ​1 to 2 minutes in a saucepan over medium heat. Add ​4 cups sugar and ​1 quart raspberry ​vinegar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Chill mixture in the refrigerator until cold and pour over ​4 cups rhubarb​, trimmed and chopped into 3-inch lengths​. Refrigerate for at least a few hours before using.