Part of why I like having a hard cider or cocktail after work is that it’s so darn tasty. There is a complexity of flavors that you just can’t get with just juice or drink mixes or, of course, water. This No-Booze November needs something with a bit more punch since I don’t have any exceptions to look forward to. Enter the Shrub.
Nope, not a shrubbery (Ni!). A shrub. Shrubs, also known as drinking vinegars, have been around for centuries and get their name from the Arabic word for drink, which is shurb. They are basically syrups made of various fruits, flowers, and herbs, and preserved with vinegar.
I was introduced to shrubs via Alton Brown. I made his recipe for a blackberry shrub and, well, I wasn’t immediately impressed. I mixed it with club soda, as suggested in his video, and found the vinegar essence to be overwhelming. But blackberries are expensive and I didn’t want them to go to waste, so I persisted and have found a beverage that takes away my desire for happy hour.
All I’ve done, really, is to find a ratio of shrub to other things that I like, and that ratio is 2 Tbsp shrub to about 6oz other liquid; my favorite combo is about 4oz cranberry juice with 2oz grapefruit juice. Grape juice and club soda is another good one. This “mocktail” has complex flavors and enough interest to curb my cider cravings and, as I’ve found, is quite versatile.
Alton also has other suggested uses for his shrub recipe which include a marinade and vinaigrette. It’s easy to make, doesn’t go bad, and can be used for other things off you don’t like it as a drink.