I’ve recently noticed shrubs showing up on menus at coffee shops and bars. Shrub sodas, shrubs in cocktails, etc. I had no idea what a shrub was, so I did some research and found out that shrubs are vinegar-based syrups or “drinking vinegar.” My reaction was skepticism followed by curiosity. I decided I needed to try them.
There are two ways of making shrubs at home. A cold method and a heat method. I tried them both. Both are quite simple. The cold methods takes longer, but seems to have a fresher, smoother taste. However, the difference is very slight. Both make a syrup that is sweet and tart.
The first shrub I made was blackberry, using the cold method. I put 8 ounces of blackberries in a bowl, mixed in 6 ounces of sugar, and let the berries macerate for several hours. I then strained the syrupy juices from the blackberry pulp, mashing the berries to extract extra juice. To the blackberry syrup, I mixed in 6 ounces of apple cider vinegar.
The second shrub I made was peach, using the heat method. I made a simple syrup by bringing 6 ounces of water and 6 ounces of sugar to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolved. Keeping the heat on medium, I added 8 ounces of fresh, ripe peaches to the syrup and mashed them with a potato masher. I strained the liquid from the peach pulp and added 6 ounces of apple cider vinegar to the peach syrup.
Shrubs can be used to make a variety of different beverages. Whether used in a non-alcoholic soda or a cocktail, shrubs add complexity to a drink and make for a refreshing beverage to drink on a hot summer day.
Mixing 0.5 ounce of shrub with 6 fluid ounces of seltzer water or club soda makes a nice shrub soda.
Mix 0.5 to 0.75 ounce of shrub with 2 ounces of a spirit of your choice, strain over ice, top off with a splash of seltzer water, and garnish with a lime wedge. I highly recommend peach shrub with bourbon.
A few months ago, Jill and I hosted a prohibition themed party. Researching food and drinks for the party, we came across a cocktail named the Bee’s Knees. Once we came across this cocktail, we began to see it more and more often. The cocktail (or a variation of it) is a regular feature on the menus at Liberty Bar and Restaurant and Madison Social.
Here is my version of the cocktail. I use Beefeater London Dry Gin in this particular cocktail because of how well it pairs with lemon and orange peel. The lavender complements the honey well.
2 oz Beefeater London dry gin
1/2 oz Freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 oz Lavender and orange peel infused honey simple syrup (see below)
Add all of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
To make the lavender and orange peel infused honey simple syrup you will need:
1/4 cup Water
1/4 cup Honey
1 teaspoon dried food-grade lavender
1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel
Stir the lavender and orange peel into the water in a pot over medium-high heat. Once the water begins to simmer, add the honey and stir until completely dissolved. Once cool, strain out the lavender and orange peel. Store the syrup in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
While bicycling with a friend who would be coming over for dinner later, he brought up the idea of having mixed drinks that evening. I haven’t had a mixed drink in a while, so I thought the idea sounded fun. Originally thinking something with rum, I decided to go for something that paired better with the Italian inspired dinner Jill was going to cook and that gave a nod to seasonal ingredients — the Blueberry Martini.
I did an internet search for good blueberry martini recipes, but most of them called for infusing vodka with blueberries for two weeks, breaking out a blender, or mixing together and extensive list of liqueurs and other ingredients. So, I decided to create my own recipe.
To make my version of the Blueberry Martini, combine in a shaker:
2 oz. Absolut Berry Acai Vodka
1 oz. Agave Nectar
1 oz. Bolthouse Farms Blue Goodness Fruit Smoothie
A squeeze of lemon juice
Fill the shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a martini glass.
Garnish with a lemon wedge and blueberries skewered onto a toothpick.