Recipes for Easy-to-Make Shrubs, the Drink of the Summer
Ever heard of a “shrub?” If you haven’t, you will soon. A shrub isn’t just something you have to prune from time to time, it’s the colloquial name for a delicious, refreshing drink that’s perfect for summer. Peaking in popularity during the American Colonial era, shrub cocktails and sodas are a festive take on drinking vinegars, long revered for their restorative properties.
But how exactly do you make a shrub, and what’s in your signature blend? Here are a few basics to keep you sipping all summer long.
Fruit – The riper the better! In fact, overripe fruit is perfect for shrub making because the vinegar notes will mellow with time.
Vinegar – The point of vinegar here is to provide a bit of tartness but not to overwhelm the fruit flavor, so most shrubs use champagne vinegar, white wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
Sugar – Plain white sugar is fine, but finely ground sugar is even better as it melts away quickly to infuse the drink with syrupy sweetness.
In most cases, the ingredients in a shrub are combined, sometimes boiled down, then left to cool and meld in several stages. Then the resulting liquid (the “shrub”) is mixed with anything from soda water to liquor, and even combined with herbs or vegetables! In some cases, cold-brewing your shrub may alleviate bitterness caused by certain ingredients like citrus.
Stone Fruit Shrub
In a glass bowl combine 1 lb. very ripe, pitted stone fruit like plums and apricots with ¾ cup white sugar. Mash the fruit with a fork to ensure it gets coated in sugar. Cover the bowl with plastic and leave in the fridge up to 24 hours. Add ¾ cup white wine vinegar, stir well, then strain through a fine mesh sieve. From here you can allow the shrub to meld longer in the refrigerator or immediately mix with ginger beer or seltzer water.
Classic Blackberry Shrub
In a large glass bowl combine 1 cup blackberries, mashed, with ¾ cup white sugar. Stir well to combine then cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit at least 8 hours. Strain the fruit syrup through a fine mesh sieve to remove the blackberry seeds then mix with ¾ cup apple cider vinegar. Place the mixture in an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator for at least a week, after which time the vinegar will mellow a bit, producing a smoother, fruitier taste. Mix with desired mixer like citrus soda or sparkling white wine.
Peach Ginger Basil Shrub
In a large glass bowl combine 1 cup overripe, mashed peaches with 1 cup white sugar and 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves. Cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring once or twice. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve then add ¼ cup grated fresh ginger, 1 ¾ cups white balsamic vinegar, and ½ cup apple cider vinegar. Seal and store in the refrigerator for at least 3 days before drinking, shaking periodically. Serve mixed with club soda or white rum and ice.
Drinking vinegar has never sounded so…summery! We’d love to see pictures of your successful summer shrub concoctions. Share them with us on the Vinegar Tips Facebook page today!