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Pastry chef Natasha Pickowicz uses this cheerful pink syrup for all sorts of sweets, including her so-called “party water”—a refreshing soft drink inspired by the restaurant tradition of spiking seltzer with kitchen scrap fruit syrups to make hydrating at work more interesting.

Make a batch of pretty party water for home, or use the syrup in your own pastry creations—to soak a shortcake, flavor a sorbet or icing, or add color and sweetness to boozy beverages.

Fresh edible roses can be purchased online or at farmers markets, or otherwise foraged; the bright pink beach roses that bloom from May through June are particularly fragrant and flavorful. (Do not use conventional flowers, which are often sprayed with inedible pesticides and preservatives.)

If your rhubarb is very green and you want to add a bit more rosy pigment to your syrup, a small piece of raw beet may be added to the liquid along with the rose petals. The optional citric and malic acid will help preserve the color of the syrup; if using the syrup immediately, feel free to omit it.

Featured in “On Pastry-Making and the Punk Rock Appeal of Pop-ups.”

Rhubarb and Rose Syrup
Pastry chef Natasha Pickowicz uses this cheerful pink syrup for all sorts of sweets, including her so-called “party water”—a refreshing soft drink inspired by the restaurant tradition of spiking seltzer with kitchen scrap fruit syrups in order to make hydrating at work more interesting.
Yield: makes 1 cup
Time: 12 hours, 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 medium edible roses, petals picked and rinsed (about ½ cup), plus more for garnish
  • 8 oz. rhubarb, leaves removed, sliced crosswise into ½-in. pieces (1½ cups)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinches of citric or malic acid (optional)
  • Sparkling water, to serve (optional)

Instructions

  1. To a small pot, add the rhubarb, sugar, and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook until the rhubarb is stringy, falling apart, and has released its color into the syrup, about 15 minutes. Stir in the citric or malic acid, if desired. Remove from heat. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a heatproof bowl and strain the syrup, reserving the rhubarb solids for another use. Stir the rose petals into the syrup and set aside until cooled to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours and up to 48 hours.
  2. Strain the syrup, discarding the petals. For party water, add a tablespoon of the syrup to a glass and top with ¾ cup sparkling water. Garnish with more rose petals. Store the syrup in an airtight jar in the fridge and use within 2 weeks.

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