With local strawberries and rhubarb available and warm weather around the corner, this is a great drink for a summer evening dinner party. I first learned to make bowles when I was a student in Germany. To keep the rhubarb more firm, first sugaring it overnight helps. I think it was Antonia James who pointed this out on this site in an earlier recipe. Sine I prefer things more tart I try to get by with half as much sugar as this recipe calls for, but my volunteer testers prefer this level of sweetness. —Sagegreen
Sprinkle half the sugar on the rhubarb stalks and let sit overnight. The next day cut the rhubarb into 1/2 inch slices. Place the cut rhubarb in a saucepan with all the sugar and lemongrass. Add a tablespoon of the wine. Simmer gently until the rhubarb is tender, but still firm; stir frequently (about 5-10 minutes). If you have to, keep adding a touch more liquid (water or lemon juice) to avoid any scorching. I find the rhubarb will create some its own liquid when you watch this carefully. Let the cooked rhubarb cool.
Ladle the cooled rhubarb with all its syrup into a large glass pitcher. Include the lemongrass. Slice the fresh strawberries and add them to the pitcher. Add orange peel and the ginger. Sprinkle the fruit with some of the cane sugar. Pour in the white wine. Add a splash of Cointreau and optional rum/brandy. Test for sweetness and adjust by adding more cane sugar if needed. Cover and chill for 18-24 hours.
Ladle some fruit to the bottom of wine glasses when ready to serve. Then pour the liquid over the fruit. Prost!