Are shrubs something that line your driveway? Perhaps, but they’re also a delicious sweetened vinegar-based syrup you use in drinks, over fruit, or anywhere a well-balanced fruit or herb-based syrup will add some pizzaz.
In America, shrubs originated in the colonial era as a means of preserving fruit in the off-season. By the 19th century, it was typical to pour vinegar over fruit – usually berries – and allow them to infuse overnight or for days. Afterward, the fruit would be strained out and the remaining liquid mixed with a sweetener such as sugar or honey and reduced to make a syrup. When home refrigeration became the norm, Americans lost interest in shrubs.
With the cocktail revival movement, bartenders began experimenting with traditional recipes and in the last five or ten years, shrubs are back in vogue.
In honor of Rochester’s Cocktail Revival week, we featured two shrubs using F. Oliver’s sublime balsamics. Our guide and creator in this endeavor is Evan Clark of Bitter Honey. (Evan is in the foreground of the photo). Included are Evan’s take on a couple of classic cocktails but these shrubs are fabulous in still or sparkling water.
Make simple syrup with the water and sugar.
Combine the mint, balsamic, and simple syrup in a blender and blend until the mint is extremely fine.
Strain into a container and refrigerate until ready for use.
High Ho Silver
This take on the traditional mint julep is perfect for watching the Derby or fanning yourself on your summer veranda.
2 ounces bourbon
½ ounce of Evan’s Honey Ginger Mint Shrub
Fill a rocks glass with crushed ice and add bourbon and the shrub. Stir slightly and serve, garnished with a couple of fresh mint leaves.
Combine sugar, water, and jalapenos in saucepan and heat to create simple syrup. After the sugar is dissolved, muddle the jalapenos slightly to get the full flavor.
Add the balsamic and strain into a container. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Peter Piper’s Paloma
This fresh take on a Paloma adds a little heat. Enjoy on Cinco de Mayo or anytime you feel like celebrating.
1½ ounces Blanco tequila
¾ – 1 ounce of Evan’s Jalapeno Grapefruit shrub
½ ounce fresh lime juice
Combine ingredients over ice, shake and strain into a collins glass with fresh ice. Top with soda water and garnish with a lime wedge.