Rhubarb Cordial – a refreshing summer drink

Jun 20, 2023

This refreshing summer drink recipe was written by : Marian Armitage

Photography: Susan Williams

Tangy, refreshing, and deliciously fragrant, this rhubarb cordial is the perfect summer drink. Capturing the essence of the Shetland's seasonal ingredients

While exploring Shetland, one can’t help but be enticed by the bountiful rhubarb plants that thrive in local gardens. 

Officially considered a vegetable, rhubarb is embraced as a beloved fruit by many Shetlanders. Year after year, this wonderful plant emerges without fail, inspiring a multitude of culinary creations. From delightful desserts to tangy preserves, the versatility of rhubarb shines through in the hands of Shetland’s culinary enthusiasts.

As the summer sun slowly warms the air and we crave a refreshing beverage, why not make a homemade rhubarb cordial? Tangy, refreshing, and deliciously fragrant this cordial captures the essence of the Shetland’s seasonal ingredients.

Image of woman on the grass harvesting fresh rhubarb from the garden

This recipe features in Marian Armitage’s new cookbook Food Made in Shetland. 

For more delicious recipes, you can purchase a copy of Food Made in Shetland.

How to make this delicious Non-Alcoholic Cocktail

This cordial is a lovely summer drink and looks so pretty, too. It is also good to be able to offer something other than fruit juice to children and those not drinking alcohol. 

I have been experimenting with proportions and think I have achieved a balance between not being “*ower shilpit*” (too sharp) whilst reducing sugar levels to an acceptable proportion.

Ingredients List – Makes 500ml

500g rhubarb 

500ml cold water 

100g granulated sugar

Image fresh rhubarb on a tray to make a refreshing summer drink.

How to make this refreshing summer drink

1. Wipe the stalks of the rhubarb and cut roughly into 1cm pieces.

2. Add the cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes until totally mushy. Then stir in the sugar, allow to dissolve, and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

3. Strain the mixture through a sieve and allow to cool. This will produce about 500ml and should be diluted 50:50 with sparkling or still water.

Close up image of a Rhubarb Cordial in crystal glass showing a refreshing summer drink.

Looking for a Playful Twist on this refreshing summer drink?

Why not experiment by adding mint leaves, slices of orange, cucumber, strawberry – Pimm’s-style – for a really exotic party drink?

Keep refrigerated and use within a week.

Another delightful rhubarb drink – this time sparkling – is created in one of the Taste of Shetland short films (www.tasteofshetland.com). Demonstrated by Mary Andreas, treasurer of Shetland Food and Drink and proprietor of Hayhoull, a 4-star B&B. It can’t be called champagne, as it was madein Bigton!

Looking for more seasonal recipes using fresh ingredients from the garden?

Check out Misa Hay’s A Year in My Shetland Garden. Where you can find a collection of simple, seasonal recipes for nourishing dishes, inspired by my beloved garden, local Shetland produce and wild plants.


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