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The tangy flavor of seasonal rhubarb complements the taste of gin surprisingly well. You can double the quantities for a bigger batch. you can make this beverage without the alcohol, [but why would you?]

4 lb rhubarb stalks, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups sugar
6 cups water
3/4 to 1 cup fresh lime juice
1 (750-ml) bottle good quality gin
1/3 cup Cointreau or other clear orange liqueur (2 1/2 oz; optional)
2 (1-liter) bottles seltzer water, chilled
16 small lime wedges


Bring rhubarb, sugar, and water to a boil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until rhubarb falls apart, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 15 minutes. Pour mixture into a large fine-mesh sieve set over a large bowl and drain 15 minutes, then press gently on and discard solids. (There will be about 8 cups syrup.) Skim off any foam and cool syrup to room temperature. Pour syrup into 1 or 2 pitchers and chill, uncovered, until cold, about 2 hours. Stir in lime juice (to taste), then gin and Cointreau.

Fill glasses with ice and add rhubarb gin mixture, stopping about 1 inch from rim. Top off with seltzer. Run a wedge of lime around rim of each glass, then squeeze into drink.

Cooks' notes: Rhubarb syrup (without lime juice, gin, or Cointreau) can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered, or frozen 1 week. Lime juice, gin, and Cointreau can be stirred into rhubarb syrup 4 hours ahead and chilled, covered.

I've spiked this lemonade with vodka to make a refreshing summer cocktail, perfect for cherry season! Generally, one batch will fill your blender. I have found it much easier to make it one batch at a time rather than doubling or tripling the recipe.

2 lbs fresh sour cherries* (stemmed)
1 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups vodka
2 to 3 cups chilled sparkling water
Garnish: Fresh sour cherries with stems

Blend cherries (including pits) in a blender at low speed until skins have broken down enough to brightly color liquid (some of pits will be coarsely chopped). Pour through a sieve into a 2-quart pitcher, pressing on and discarding solids. Add lemon juice and sugar (to taste), stirring until sugar is dissolved.

Pour 3 tablespoons vodka (if using) into each of 8 tall (10-ounce) glasses filled with ice. Add 1/2 cup cherry lemonade to each and top off with sparkling water.
Cooks' note: Sour cherry lemonade can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.
* You can substitute frozen sour cherries off season.


I have been making variations of sangria for years. Being from California, (which I often refer to as Mexico - because it is!) and having a great love for Mexican food it always seems very much the choice drink for many celebrations in my life. I have had many versions of sangria and this is what seems to be my favorite after working on it for years. I spike the sangria with brandy, so I really don't mind using cheap wine. You know the kind that comes in a jug with a screw cap?

For each jug of wine macerate fruits and spices as follows: 1 each: lemon, lime, orange, pink grapefruit, 1 stick of cinnamon, 1 star anise, and 1 bunch of fresh French lavender tied in a piece of cheese cloth. In the largest container that will fit in you refrigerator mix all of the previous ingredients. The solid items will be *discarded for the final presentation. Let the mixture do its thing over night in the refrigerator. Just before serving remove solids and add 1 cup of Brandy and 1 cup of cherry or pomegranate juice for each jug of wine. Serve in a large punchbowl filled with ice made from *purified water. Add new fresh slices of lemons, limes and oranges. Add 1 pint of blueberries, small hulled strawberries, sliced peaches and plums. Add one cup each of red and green grapes.

*Notes*: Discard wine soaked fruits because they will look unappealing, [add fresh]. Use ice made from purified water because ice made from tap water will impart a chlorinated flavor to the sangria. Add lavender blossoms to ice cube trays before adding purified water for an interesting garnish. Make kabobs of fresh fruit to use as a garnish.

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