I still remember my first sip of that strange drink called shrub. It was refreshing, perfectly fruity, sweet, but not cloying; it had a little bit of a bite.
“What IS this?” I asked the bartender. This is when he explained that a shrub was a “drinking vinegar.”
“Drinking vinegar” doesn’t sound appealing, which is perhaps why the intriguing name of “shrub” finds itself on so many menus. Ultimately, it’s a fruit syrup made with vinegar that you mix with things like seltzer water and spirits to achieve what I think is one of the highest forms of the cocktail.
Back at that restaurant, they told me that they made their shrubs in house. I was very impressed and assumed it was something far beyond my home kitchen and my patience.
Fortunately, I was quite wrong. Making shrubs is easy! And, it’s an excellent way to use bits of fruit and herbs that you might otherwise throw away. Once I discovered this, I started collecting.
Apple cores and mushy blueberries and stone fruit pits with clingy bits of fruit still attached went into a designated container in the freezer. As soon as I had a decent amount—let’s say at least three cups worth—I got to work making my first shrub.
Making a shrub requires fruit, water, sugar and vinegar, along with heat and/or plenty of time to simmer. Fascinatingly, there doesn’t seem to be much agreement on the interwebs about exactly how to make a shrub.
Serious Eats say to cover the fruit with sugar and leave in the fridge for a while. The Kitchn suggests pouring hot vinegar over the fruit, letting it sit and then warming the concoction again much later to add the sugar. Food52 gives options for different hot and cold approaches. Their cold approach, which involved leaving a bowl of fruit covered in sugar on the counter for a long time, weirded me out, but the hot one inspired the recipe I use today.
So, here’s how I do it:Print Print