What you need to know before you turn up your nose at the thought of drinking vinegar

in Non-Fiction by

With the cool autumn nights here, backyard barbeques and pool parties make way for indoor dinner parties and haunted hayrides. And we all know that no social gathering is complete without liquid refreshment. Instead of falling back on the safe choices, like beer, wine or if you are West Indian, rum punch, you should give shrubs a try.

When most people think of shrubs, they think of bushes. However, there is another definition that is slowly regaining popularity – a drink made with fruit juice, sugar, vinegar and alcohol. Before you turn up your nose at the prospect of drinking a vinegar based beverage, keep in mind that the drinking of shrubs goes back nearly 4,000 years. As Michael Dietsch’s title indicates, shrubs really are old fashioned drinks for modern times. jpegShrubs have their roots in a time and area where the water was not potable. Soured wine or vinegar was added to reduce waste and make the available water safe to drink. When prohibition gripped the United States, the populace rediscovered shrubs as a substitute for the alcohol they could no longer legally obtain.

Now, alcohol is readily available, but it does not take away from the fact that shrubs are still deliciously refreshing. (Shrub fact: Vinegar is quite refreshing on a hot day because sour tasting beverages, such as vinegar and lemonade, are better at stimulating salivation than their sweeter brethren.) Shrubs (Countryman Press, October 6, 2014) provides enough direction for the novice shrub maker, while leaving the well-versed plenty of room for creativity.

cassiopea0
Cassiopea Rocks
Italian Glassware by Bormioli Rocco

Versatility is the order of the day as Dietsch clearly lets the reader know. If you can pick it, you can use it as a base for a shrub. From berries to apples, peaches to mangos, your imagination is the only limit to the sweetly tart concoctions you can make. While I would flavor these summery shrubs with my favorite potent potable, Jamaican rum, the teetotalers among us could drink them as is, or with a splash of seltzer.

Bot_TrasparentiBlu_LR
Oxford Bottle
Italian Glassware by Bormioli Rocco

 

Peach, Ginger, Cinnamon Shrub

Ingredients

  • 6 ripe peaches (about 1 ½ pounds), pitted & cut into chunks
  • ⅔ cup grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar

Process

  1. Place peaches, grated ginger, and sugar into a medium bowl. Crush the fruit, and stir to combine.
  2. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. Allow to macerate for a day.
  3. Meanwhile, place cinnamon and vinegar in a nonreactive container. Allow to steep for a day.
  4. Position a fine-mesh strainer over a small bowl and pour peach mixture through to remove the solids.
  5. Remove cinnamon from vinegar, and add strained syrup. Whisk well to incorporate any undissolved sugar.
  6. You may have some sugar clinging to the fruit solids in the strainer. If so, set strainer with the solids over another small bowl. Pour the syrup-and-vinegar mixture over the solids to wash the sugar into the bowl. Repeat as necessary.
  7. Pour syrup-and-vinegar mixture into a clean mason jar. Cap it, shake it well to incorporate any undissolved sugar, and place in the refrigerator for a week before using.
  8. Discard the solids or save them for another use.
Sorgento tall blue400
Sorgento Tumbler
Italian glassware by Bormioli Rocco

Watermelon Basil Shrub

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups cubed watermelon
  • ¾ cup raw cane sugar
  • 15-20 basil leaves (about ½ ounce), bruised
  • ¾ cup white wine vinegar

Process

  1. Place watermelon and sugar into a bowl. Stir to combine. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and store in fridge for up to two days.
  2. Meanwhile, place basil leaves in a nonreactive container, cover with vinegar, and store in a cool dark place for up to two days.
  3. Position a fine-mesh strainer over a small bowl and pour watermelon-sugar mixture through to remove the solids.
  4. Strain vinegar mixture over the same mesh strainer, into the same bowl as watermelon syrup. Allow to combine.
  5. You may have some sugar clinging to the fruit solids in the strainer. If so, set strainer with the solids over another small bowl. Pour the syrup-and-vinegar mixture over the solids to wash the sugar into the bowl. Repeat as necessary.
  6. Pour syrup-and-vinegar mixture into a clean mason jar. Cap it, shake it well to incorporate any undissolved sugar, and place in the refrigerator for a week before using.
  7. Discard the solids or save them for another use.
To encourage you to take up the mantle of shrub-making, we have an awesome giveaway.

Along with a copy of Shrubs:An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times:

We are giving away a beautiful  Italian glassware by Bormioli Rocco including one set of four Sorgente tumblers, one set of four Cassiopea rocks glasses, and an elegant Oxford bottle. A great drink deserves a gorgeous presentation and these glasses are just the thing to wow your guests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

is an anime and theater nerd who works only to feed those addictions. Between her plans to take over the world, perfecting her winged eyeliner and cooking large batches of Korean fried chicken, Mea managed to complete her M.A. in Communications at Sacred Heart University. She lives in Connecticut with two loving pets: her daughter and her boyfriend.