If you’ve talked to me in the past few weeks, chances are you’ve heard me raving about my new favorite drink, the shrub. No, we’re not talking about the bushes outside your mom’s house, but a super tasty syrup that can be added to a little seltzer or used as an ingredient in cocktails. Shrubs dates back to the 18th century when they was used as a way to preserve fruit—I still haven’t figured out why they’re called shrubs though. Simply put, they’re a mixture of fresh fruit, sugar and vinegar.
Now I have to admit, when I first heard about drinking vinegar, I was not interested in it at all. That just sounds kinda gross to me. But then, thanks to Jessica who submitted a story for the next issue of Remedy that included a recipe for a shrub, I had to test it. I made it and I was hooked—it’s like seeing in color when you’ve only seen things in black and white. The flavor is so bright and full of depth— I think you’re going to be hooked too…
There are two methods to making shrubs, a hot, quick method similar to making simple syrup and a cold, slow method. I’ve tried both and they both provide great results, but I think the cold method has a bit more depth and fruityness, so that’s the one I’m sharing.
Simply combine an equal amount of sugar and fruit in a bowl or container. *Note, I tried using less sugar and I felt like it wasn’t as tasty, but that’s just me. For the raspberries, I simply smashed them a bit to expose the inside of the fruit because that’s how the juices will be released. For example, with cherries, pit and quarter them, for rhubarb, slice it—you get the idea, right? Then I just put it in the fridge and let it work some magic. It may take a few hours, maybe overnight, you’ll know it’s ready when the fruit has soaked all the sugar up and has liquid is surrounding it (like the lower left photo above).
Next, you’ll strain the liquid into a jar, making sure to press on the solids to get as much of the liquid as you possibly can and if there’s any sugar left in the bowl, make sure to include that in the syrup as well. Shazam, you’re almost done! All you need is vinegar— I like to use red wine vinegar, but you can also use cider vinegar or heck, experiment with other crazy vinegars. Remember how we used equal parts fruit and sugar? Well, we’re also going to add an equal amount of vinegar. Once that’s added to the fruit syrup you’ve got yourself a shrub! Wasn’t that easy? Now wait until you try it!
The vinegar is going to be quite prominent if you drink it right away; the longer you let the shrub sit and make magic in the fridge, the more the flavors will meld and the vingar will be less strong. Regardless, you need very little of the syrup to make a drink that’ll knock your socks off. I prefer it with simple seltzer, but it’s also great with something light like lillet blanc.
makes about 1 cup
for more on shrubs, check out serious eats
|1 cup raspberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup red wine vinegar
|1. Combine the raspberries and sugar in a bowl. Gently mash the raspberries to release the juices. Place uncovered in the refrigerator for at least a few hours and up to a few days, until the fruit is surrounded by syrup.2. Remove the bowl from the fridge and strain the liquid into a jar, making sure to scrape the bowl to get any leftover sugar.
3. Add the vinegar, put a lid on the jar and shake. Store in the fridge—it’s normal for some sugar to fall to the bottom. Just give it a shake before you use it. Eventually the sugar will totally dissolve.
raspberry shrub spritz
|1 ounce raspberry shrub
4-5 ounces seltzer water
1. Pour the shrub into a tall glass. Add ice, then the seltzer, and stir with a spoon or straw. Enjoy!