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Shrubs: Sweet, Sour and Ready for Summer Cocktails

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By: Caroline Russock
Shrubs: Sweet, Sour and Ready for Summer Cocktails

Shrubs, or drinking vinegars, are sweet and sour, fruit-based syrups that were all the rage in Colonial times. Preserving fruit in a blend of vinegar and sugar began as a shelf-stable way to incorporate fresh fruit flavors into drinks that could be enjoyed year-round. Today, history buff-mixologists are embracing the shrub as an infinitely versatile method to incorporate balanced fruit flavors into summertime-perfect cocktails.

Making your own shrubs at home couldn't be easier, as they call for a simple one-to-one-to-one ratio of fruit to sugar to vinegar. When it comes to sugar, white is best; cider vinegar is a great jumping off point but Champagne, balsamic and wine vinegars also work beautifully, depending on your fruit of choice.

The key to creating truly unique shrubs lies in combining ingredients that pair well, embracing both the traditional and the unexpected by adding Spice Islands® herbs and spices into the mix.

The familiar duo of strawberry and balsamic gets an expected hint of woodsiness when a teaspoon or two of rosemary goes into the shrub. And while you're letting that peach shrub sit with white wine vinegar, think about adding a bit of tarragon to elevate the aromatics factor. Citrus shrubs like orange or lemon benefit from the spice of ginger, while what watermelon really wants is some mint.

When it comes time to mix, all you have to do is grab a bottle of your preferred summer spirit — gin, vodka and blanco tequila all work very well — and grab the glassware. Drop in a few ice cubes, a couple of ounces of the good stuff, add shrub to taste, and top with sparkling water. You will have a versatile cocktail that will take you from early summer's strawberries straight through to the last plums of the season.

Basic Shrub

Makes 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 cup fruit
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup vinegar

Slice or mash fruit and mix with sugar. Cover with a kitchen towel, and let sit at room temperature for two days, stirring once a day. Strain the mixture, stir in vinegar to taste, and transfer to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator.

Strawberry-Rosemary Balsamic Shrub

 

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Combine the strawberries, sugar and rosemary. Cover with a kitchen towel, and let sit at room temperature for two days, stirring once a day. Strain the mixture, stir in vinegar to taste, and transfer to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator.

Peach-Tarragon Shrub

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Combine the peaches, sugar and rosemary. Cover with a kitchen towel, and let sit at room temperature for two days, stirring once a day. Strain the mixture, stir in vinegar to taste, and transfer to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator.

Summer Shrub Spritz

Serves 1

  • 2 ounces gin, vodka or tequila
  • 2 ounces shrub
  • 2 ounces sparkling water

Pour the ingredients into a glass of ice, stir, garnish with fresh fruit or a sprig of herbs, and serve.

Spice Islands® spices deliver high quality, authentic flavors from all over the world so you can put the most delicious meals on your table.

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