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Think Pink with Classic Downton Rhubarb Summer Cocktails

Think Pink afternoon tea at the Flemings Mayfair 

“Better get outside, there’s only two more days of summer.”  That is my mantra every August to help encourage myself and my co-workers to get outside at lunch because soon it will be too cold to sit outside in the sun.  Soon the days will get shorter, cooler and all the fresh locally grown produce will gone for the year.  Whether you grow your own, visit your  local farmers market, or enjoy cheaper prices at your grocery this time of year, do enjoy fresh produce now like the grasshopper.  However, be sure to make time to store the excess in your freezer and pantry to store for winter like the clever little ant in the Aesop Fable.

Today we drink! Edwardians love the refreshing tart taste of rhubarb and not only cooked, they incorporated it into cocktails.  Yes, you can have alcohol at your afternoon tea, but these drinks are grand at your garden party.  We prepare rhubarb syrup to make a couple of Downton drinks, such as pink shocker and rhubarb bellini.

Downton Dish

Sibling love, Crawley style

Downton launches Season 4 in mid September in the UK, but sadly in America we have to wait until January for our turn.  In the meantime, here are some distractions to keep your Downton cravings at bay. If you haven’t seen all seasons (1-3) beware of spoilers below.

Rhubarb, a Joy to Eat and to Drink

rhubarb syrup makes a delightfully pink   syrup to add color to any drink

The English love Rhubarb and the Edwardians in particular had a fondness for the tart stalky vegetable. There were even large greenhouses forcing rhubarb to enjoy year round.

Rhubarb is a great plant to try for those of you aren’t great gardeners. This is a perennial, and I recall the plant tucked in our family garden which grew for years even when we forgot about it and was almost lost in the weeds.

The plants I grow today are a remnant from our family cottage.  I dug up the plants from our cottage when we sold it and brought them home to my city garden.  Just as I remembered, they are happy to grow on their own, and are ready to pick from late Spring until the Fall.  As I remembered it was time to get my hair cut this weekend, I thought it was also time to give my plants a trim.

A great ingredient in many breakfast and dessert dishes we have already made here at Downton Abbey Cooks:

The Edwardians couldn’t get enough of rhubarb. By creating a simple syrup, they could add it to their cocktails. You could also add a splash to punch up any dish. Perfect for serving at a garden party on a hot summer’s day.

Rhubarb Cocktails


Zesty Rhubarb Cocktails

Start with the Rhubarb Syrup as your base ingredient.  You can make a number of alcoholic or non alcoholic drinks Try mixing with vodka or gin to create your own signature martini. You can also simply add sparkling water and a lemon slice for a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage.
Course Drinks
Cuisine Edwardian, English
Prep Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes
Servings 1 serving


Pink Shocker

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 2 tbsp. Rhubarb Syrup
  • 1 tsp. Freshly ground ginger
  • Ice

Rhubarb Bellini

  • Rhubarb Syrup
  • Cava/Champagne


Pink Shocker

  • Add the vodka, rhubarb syrup and a sprinkle of ground ginger over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake generously and pour into a high ball glass.
  • Cut thin strips from a rhubarb stalk to create a garnish.

Rhubarb Bellini

  • Fill a champagne glass half full with rhubarb puree.
  • Fill to the top with your bubbly.



Rhubarb Syrup

Course Drinks
Cuisine English
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 31 minutes
Servings 1 cup


  • 5 stalks rhubarb chopped into ½ inch pieces
  • ½ cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
  • 1 cup water


  • Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and then crack the lid on the pot to let the steam escape. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Strain through a fine sieve into a glass container.
  • The syrup will keep refrigerated for about a month.
  • Use a a base for your favorite drinks.


Click for drink ideas for cocktails you can make with Rhubarb Syrup as the base


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