Drunken Rhubarb

This recipe is a 2-in-1 kind of deal. Not only does it produce a delicious flavored vodka, it also leaves you with pieces of rhubarb you can serve with tea or use to make a cake, such as a babka.

Originally from China, rhubarb was transported along the Silk Road starting as early as the 14th century. As the usual route lay through Russia, it became known as “Russian rhubarb”. Nowadays, it’s especially popular in Northern Russia and in the Baltic states — you’ll find a rhubarb bush in every Estonian vegetable garden. Check out the countless rhubarb recipes from Estonian blog Nami-Nami.

You can use any variety of rhubarb you want, but cherry red rhubarb will give you the brightest red color.

Drunken rhubarb
Yields 1 pint

9 oz cherry red rhubarb, cut into 1″ pieces
4 oz sugar
1 oz white wine
4 oz vodka

  • Place the rhubarb in a saucepan with the sugar and white wine, and let rest for 4-5 hours.
  • Bring the rhubarb to a boil, stirring regularly, then boil for 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Transfer to a sterilized pint jar, gently stir in the vodka, seal and process in a 200 F water bath for 15 minutes.
  • Store in a cool place for at least 1 month.

Maraschino Cherries

Unbeknownst to most of us, maraschino cherries haven’t always been the overly sweet, rubbery, bright red mess we are accustomed to in our cocktails. You can read their fascinating history on Wikipedia, from their royal origin to their post-Prohibition descent into mediocrity.

There are two components to authentic maraschino cherries:

  • Marasca cherries, a type of sour Morello cherries found in former Yugoslavia, Hungary and northern Italy.
  • Maraschino, a Croatian (and later Italian) liqueur made from Marasca cherries.

Next time you see sour cherries at the farmers’ market in the fall, consider making a few jars that you can use in your drinks and desserts!

Maraschino cherries
Yields over 1 pint

12 oz Maraschino
2 oz sugar
16 oz (about 3 cups) pitted sour cherries

  • Bring the Maraschino and sugar to a boil, stirring regularly. Add the cherries, bring back to a boil, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a sterilized pint jar, seal and place in a 200 F water bath for 15 minutes, with water level just below the lid.
  • Let cool for 30 minutes and refrigerate. You will also have about 1 cup left of maraschino-cherry liquid that can be used for cocktails.