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.