Strawberry Rhubarb Sundowner

Lillet apertif

I love the word ‘sundowner.’ Actually, I love the thing itself even more. The first time my friend Patrick invited me to join him for a sundowner, I had no idea what he meant. But I think that was the night I fell in love with Cape Town.  How could I not love a place that has a word to describe the drink you imbibe while watching the sun set?

Sitting on a terrace, sipping a cocktail, watching the sun go down over the water. Such a luxury. But the ubiquity of the Cape Town sundowner made the beauty of such moments an every day enjoyment. Jeff talks about instituting cocktail hour in our house. Sitting on our deck sipping a sundowner sounds wonderful. We may not have the ocean or mountains of Cape Town, but our back yard will do.

And this cocktail is the perfect spring sundowner. It’s finally strawberry season here in New England, and I’ve been sneaking strawberries into every dish and glass since I went berry picking last weekend. The strawberry rhubarb base here is barely sweet, and slightly tart.  If you haven’t tried Lillet, give it a shot. It’s a French aperitif, slightly sweet, with the flavors of oak, citrus and herb. I really enjoy it on its own over ice, but it marries well with the strawberries and rhubarb for an impressively pretty drink.

With fresh strawberries overflowing from the markets these days, it’s no wonder that so many folks are sharing beautiful berry recipes. Devaki at Weave a Thousand Flavors is collecting strawberry recipes this month, and has a wonderful strawberry crumble cake of her own to share.  Check it out here.

fresh strawberries

Strawberry Rhubarb Sundowner

Serves 4

1/2 cup chopped fresh rhubarb

1/2 cup chopped fresh hulled strawberries

2 tablespoons sugar

8 ounces Lillet

8 ounces seltzer or club soda

additional strawberries for garnish

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the rhubarb, strawberries, and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is very soft, about 15 minutes.  Cool.  Once the fruit mixture is cooled, in each of four glasses stir one quarter of the fruit mixture with two ounces of Lillet.  Add plenty of ice and top with a splash of seltzer. Garnish with extra berries.

Published in: on June 14, 2011 at 6:45 pm  Comments (22)  
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22 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. oh, i HAVE to try this! i’ve never had rhubarb, and i think the best way to start is in a cocktail!

  2. Love the name “sundowner”…the drink looks lovely too.

  3. Sounds like a lovely time with the perfect drink!

  4. Sounds like a great treat for summer 🙂 Love the name. It makes the drink sounds even tastier.

  5. We are having a dinner party Saturday night, and I’m going to make this for us to sip on the deck as we start the evening. When my husband and I were dating, his mom used to serve me Lillet in the most beautiful glasses when I was at their house. And I used to make rhubarb pies, which were fabulous if I do say so myself, for my dad. So both the Lillet and rhubarb components bring back the best memories. Our local farmers markets have plenty of rhubarb and strawberries so I’m set.

    • Such good memories! I hope you enjoy this. One extra tip… I love the bits of berry and rhubarb in my drink, but if you want something more refined for your party, you can puree the compote after it cools.

  6. This looks so refreshing and delicious! It would be a great drink for us as we watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.

  7. I love all the ingredients in the this drink and the name is perfect. We’ll be serving Sundowners this weekend!

  8. Genius idea using rhubarb in a cocktail! Love it!

  9. I am certain…. I am ready for a SUNDOWNER! Thanks sharing this.
    Take care,

  10. Hi everyone

    PATRICK from Cape Town here!

    It’s mid winter here in Cape Town – cold and wet today so no sun. But that won’t stop me from having a sundowner anyway as it’s the right time here.

    If you’d like to see some beautiful pictures from southern Africa, please check out my website:, or “like”my Facebook page –

    Katie, hope to see you next month in NYC! I will bring you some delicacies from South Africa.


  11. Never had rhubarb, nor lillet and both sound just wonderful in this drink!

  12. What a perfectly lovely word for such a gorgeous and refreshing drink. 🙂 I have to make this as soon as I find some strawberries! 🙂

  13. This sounds like a great drink for a warm summer eve. Thanks!

  14. What an excellent concoction for the summer with 2 of nature’s summery gifts. yea! And thanks for the entry dear 🙂

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  15. I loooovvve strawberries and rhubarb, sounds like the perfect cocktail!

  16. My hubby would flip over this. YUM.

  17. stunning color and the name calls to me. love the combo of strawberry and rhubarb

  18. That looks so delicious, like dessert in a cocktail. I agree…love the word sundowner.

  19. Great drink to celebrate the end of a hot summer day. A bit tart, a bit sweet with citrus and oak flavors. Delish!


  20. […] and this Strawberry Rhubarb Cocktail […]

  21. […] Lillet.  Rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, Lillet and seltzer or club soda.  Full recipe and method here.  Again, please take a few minutes and browse the site, it is full of more delicious treats than […]

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