Picnic season is upon us, dear Boozers. We’ve unpacked our summer whites, dusted off the croquet set, and stacked the barbecue with fresh charcoal. The blissful moment of pleine air dining has arrived, heralded by the droning of cicadas and brightly-colored piles of fresh-picked produce at the farmer’s market. Time for a popsicle.
The idea of a cocktail-based popsicle is hardly new, but is always worth exploring. With fresh rhubarb in season and the bright taste of gin on our tongues, we naturally jumped at any excuse to make Picnic Pops – in this case, Strawberry-Rhubarb Gin Pops, a refreshing celebration of that fleeting moment when spring becomes summer. Grab it.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Gin Pops
Freezing alcohol can be a bit tricky – some recipes recommend adding gelatin to help firm up the liquid, but a heavy hand can result in something more akin to a frozen Jell-O shot, which might be perfectly tasty but is not, of course, really a popsicle. For our Picnic Pops, we firmed up our liquid base with strawberry jam, as the pectin in the jam helps provide a stabilizing agent.
1 cup fresh chopped rhubarb stems
1.5 cups water
1 cup sugar
2-inch piece of fresh lemon peel
3 heaping tablespoons strawberry jam
fresh mint leaves
4-ounce wax-lined paper cups
popsicle sticks or straws cut into 5-inch lengths
Combine first four ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and let simmer until liquid is reduced and slightly thickened and rhubarb is completely soft. Let cool for ten minutes, mash the rhubarb in the liquid, and then strain. Add strawberry jam and mix thoroughly, allowing to cool to room temperature. Add gin and stir to mix. Place a small mint leaf into the bottoms of several paper cups, then fill each cup about halfway with strawberry-rhubarb liquid. Place cups into the freezer for about 45 minutes. If the liquid has started to freeze up well, then put a popsicle stick or straw in the center of each (be careful to not push all the way to the bottom of the cup) – if the liquid has not yet firmed up enough to hold the stick steady, then cover each cup with a small square of aluminum foil and poke the stick through the center of the foil and push into the cup. Allow to freeze overnight and peel off the paper cup to serve. Makes about 6 pops.
Note: If you make these with straws, it’s also fun to serve as a Slurpee-style palate cleanser – just leave the cups intact and serve as is – but watch out for brain freeze.