Rhubarb's bracing acidity and generous fragrance make it a perfect medium for drinks. You cook down a little rhubarb with sugar and a dash of water, season it however you like -- ginger, lemongrass, or why not cardamom? -- strain the mixture, and blend the syrup with sparkling water or, better yet, prosecco.
Here I added vanilla to the rhubarb and then squeezed a lime into the drink. And as I sit here sipping it on a late April evening when it's still 80 degrees out, I'm pretty happy with my little midnight elixir. —Amanda Hesser
Place the rhubarb, sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a medium saucepan. Cover and place over medium heat. Simmer until the rhubarb is soft enough to mash with the back of a spoon -- then mash it! Stir in the vanilla.
Pass the rhubarb mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing the solids with the back of a spoon to extract as much syrup as possible. You should have 3/4 cup syrup.
Fill 6 tumblers with ice. Add 2 tablespoons of syrup to each glass. Top with sparkling water (or prosecco). Squeeze a lime wedge into each glass. Give each drink a stir. Then toast to your thirst and happiness.
Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.