Chris Cooks

Hello, Spring – Strawberry Rhubarb Sodas

April 25, 2014  —  Written by Chris 

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Even though we’re only a few hours north of our last home in Utah, Spring tends to take its time making its way to Rexburg. And just when you think it’s arrived, boom, snow. Well, we’re a little tired of waiting for it to officially to be “Spring” here, so we made it Spring ourselves, in the form of this drink.

Our friends at RedEnvelope started their #redBar campaign recently. And even though I don’t drink alcohol, I couldn’t pass up the chance to join in. Some of you long-time readers may remember me talking about my brief stint as a “bartender” for an alcohol-free bar (they do, in fact, exist). Julia actually hired me for that job, long before we started dating, and that’s where I learned the drinks I shared last summer, found here, here, here, and here. The truth is, I love putting inordinate amounts of effort into typically less-important parts of a meal, like the drinks. But don’t worry, these sodas aren’t too bad. The trick is to make the pulp a day in advance.

I call it “pulp” because that’s really the only name for it. Let’s get started.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sodas with Grapefruit and Mint

For “the pulp”:
• 1lb bag of frozen strawberries
• 6 large stalks of rhubarb
• 1 cup + 1/4-1/2 cup sugar
• 3 cups + 1/2-1 cup water
• 3 medium grapefruits
• 10 or so small-medium fresh mint leaves

For the sodas:
• club soda
• ice

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sodas with Grapefruit and Mint

First, wash and cut the rhubarb. Put the strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, and 3 cups of water into a deep sauce pan on medium heat. Add more water if it doesn’t seem liquid enough. Simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the rhubarb and strawberries are easily mashed with a potato masher or fork or something.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sodas with Grapefruit and Mint

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sodas with Grapefruit and Mint

Once cooked thoroughly, it’s a good idea to pass the pulp through a fine-mesh sieve and work it with a spoon. This mashes the pulp very finely and makes sure you don’t have any stringy pieces of rhubarb left over. After pushing it through the sieve, pull out any stringy-looking pieces and add the fruit mash back into the separated syrup. You could put it in a blender, but be careful to pulse slowly or else it’ll get frothy, which isn’t what we’re going for.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sodas with Grapefruit and Mint

Next, juice the grapefruits, taking care to remove any seeds that make their way in (except the tiny seeds that are like the same size as a strawberry seed. don’t worry about those). Add the juice from the grapefruits, as well as the zest from 1/2 of one of the grapefruits into the pulp.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sodas with Grapefruit and Mint

Using a mortar and pestle, mash the mint leaves together until they form a paste. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use your knife to chop the mint very, very finely. Add the mint to the pulp and whisk it all together. Taste and add more sugar (1/4-1/2 cup) and water (1/2-1 cup) until it doesn’t taste bitter and is slightly more liquid than applesauce.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sodas with Grapefruit and Mint

This is the pulp. Heads up, it’s really sweet. Like, too sweet to drink/eat on its own. But that’s because we’re adding it to club soda, which doesn’t have any sugar, so we need that sweetness. Allow the pulp to chill in the fridge over night.

When you’re ready to assemble the drinks, use a ratio of 1 part pulp to 2 parts ice and 2 parts club soda. Ice first, then pulp, then club soda. I did:
1 cup ice
1/2 cup pulp
1 cup club soda

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sodas with Grapefruit and Mint

I think Jules described it best as a fresh, fruity version of Squirt. The process, though it may seem to have lots of steps, really isn’t difficult and the drink is surprisingly refreshing. Whether you’re having the neighbors over for a barbecue, a friend for lunch on the patio, or just looking for a great drink for family dinner, I really think you’ll like this one.

Don’t forget to check out the other #redBar recipes on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and add your own. Stuff like this is just fun to be part of, isn’t it?

What do you think?

  1. Christina says:

    Sounds yummy! Can the pulp be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge for a couple days?

    • Chris says:

      You bet. There’s a threshold of about 3 days. Day 1 is when you make it, and it’s really fresh and bright that day. Day 2 is probably when it’s at its best – still fresh and bright, but the mint flavor comes through more. Day 3, the mint flavor dies down a bit, as well as the brightness, but not anything your guests would notice. On day 4 it really starts losing complexity. Everything starts tasting a bit like that fruit cocktail in a can, ya know? But if you use it within those first 3 days, it’s still great.

  2. Meagan Briggs says:

    You and Ryan are so much alike. Last Easter, seriously minutes before our dinner guests were due to arrive, the kitchens a MESS, and we were all scrambling, Ryan goes, I want to make an Orange Julius. My first response, NO WAY! Give them water!! We argued for a good 5 minutes while he was assembling it all together. Turns out, I ate my words the minute our guests came inside and he offered to get them a drink of this stuff. The wife was early pregnant and could only drink juice, no water because it made her so sick. She chugged it down and was so happy. He kept giving me this “eye” during dinner like SEE? PEOPLE LIKE SPECIAL DRINKS!! So maybe we’ll have to try this this summer! Ps, is rhubarb expensive?

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