We’ve been experimenting with shrubs this past few months and have a couple to share with you for your fall cocktailing. If you aren’t familiar with shrubs, they are a drinking vinegar ~ a syrupy concoction of fresh fruit, sugar and vinegar to be exact. Intended as an enhancement for beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Shrubs have been around for literally hundreds of years, Back in the day they were a popular additive to sparkling wine and rum. Shrubs have been making a big comeback the last 10 years, in large part because of the health benefits over drinking soda and “blue water” and the growing interest in preserving foods. Today’s mixologists are incorporating shrubs into signature cocktails that are both knock-your-socks-off delicious and gorgeous! It’s remarkably easy to become a home-mixologist when you have shrubs at your fingertips. They make you look like a pro! Shrubs are simply equal parts fruit (or vegetable), sugar and vinegar. You’ll see shrub recipes using everything from peaches & pears to berries and beets. Enhancements like juniper berries, ginger, fresh herbs and vanilla bean are commonly added to the vinegar. Selected fruits are macerated with the sugar and both the vinegar mixture and fruit mixture are left to ferment for 48 hours (or longer) in a dark cool place and then another 10 to 14 days in the fridge. Recipes we researched show that shrubs are often used just a couple days after fermenting. Allowing them to ferment longer makes for a better end result. Making the real-deal shrub takes some planning, but you be the judge on the fermenting timeline. Just get started now so you can enjoy one of these cocktails while we’re enjoying our Northwest fall!
There are hundreds of combinations ~ the point is to concoct something that marries well and if using alcohol, serves well in a glass. In our recipe testing, we found that the shrubs we made definitely brightened the cocktail, particularly if we added just a bit of citrus. What we’ve read is that unlike citrus, a shrub can be shaken in a cocktail and it doesn’t “cloud” the beverage like citrus tends to do. So if shaking, consider adding citrus directly to the glass.
For our fall cocktailing we made two shrubs. Our 65 year old pear tree produces mega-amounts of fruit every year! So, we made a Pear Ginger Turmeric Shrub and from our 10 year old plum tree and our garden-grown shiso, we borrowed an idea from Feasting at Home (https://www.feastingathome.com) and made a Plum Shiso Shrub. Both cocktails are amazing.
Pear Ginger Turmeric Shrub ~ cocktail listed below
makes two 16 oz bottles
- 3 lbs pears, with skins, roughly chopped – about 8 ripe pears
- 2 C organic cane sugar
- 2 C apple cider vinegar, with or without mother
- 3 pieces of fresh organic ginger, about 2″ each with skin, chopped
- 2 fingers of fresh turmeric, chopped (if you can’t get fresh turmeric, you can try dry. We used fresh)
Combine pears, ginger and turmeric with the sugar in a nonreactive container (we used a glass jar). Toss the pears to coat them in sugar and then macerate them with wooden spoon or stainless potato masher. All this mixture is strained later, so don’t worry about seeds, skins or stems. Cover with a tea towel and place in a cool, dark location for 48 hours. You’ll want to stir the mixture a couple of times each day.
After 48 hours, strain the pear mixture using a fine mesh strainer. Pour strained pear mixture into a glass bottle and add in vinegar. Stir to combine. Seal the bottles. To age the shrub, leave in the refrigerator for 10-14 days. Then cocktail! Your shrub will last up to 6 months in the fridge.
Plum Shiso Shrub ~ cocktail listed below
makes (2) 16 oz bottles
- 3 lbs ripe red or purple plums, chopped with skins and pits. Approximately 10 plums
- 2 C organic cane sugar
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 2 C rice wine vinegar, unseasoned
- 15 RED organic shiso leaves, chiffonade cut or chopped (there are two varieties. One green, one red. We want the red for this recipe)
- 10 fresh organic basil leaves, chiffonade cut or chopped
- 3 T Juniper berries (optional) or 1 vanilla bean, whole (we made ours with the juniper berries we recently picked in Eastern Oregon)
Combine chopped plums, sugar and salt in a nonreactive container (we used a glass jar). Toss the plums to coat them in sugar and then macerate them with wooden spoon or stainless potato masher. All this mixture is strained later, so don’t worry about skin and pits. Cover with a tea towel and place in a cool, dark location for 48 hours. You’ll want to stir the mixture a couple of times each day.
Combine chiffonade of shiso, basil, and juniper berries with rice wine vinegar in a nonreactive container (we used a glass jar). Cover with tea towel and place in dark, cool location.
After 48 hours, strain the plum mixture using a fine mesh strainer. Mix equal parts of plum mixture and shiso basil vinegar mixture. You should get approximately 2 cups of plum syrup to mix with the 2 cups of enhanced vinegar. (please note: our vinegar did not retain the juniper flavor. Next time I would try more berries or opt for the vanilla bean version. Once plum syrup and vinegar are mixed, pour into 16 oz glass bottles. Seal the bottle. At this point, you can use the shrub, but if you leave it in the fridge to age for 10 -14 days, you’ll get a much more vibrant result. Your shrub will last up to 6 months in the fridge.
Pear Ginger Dark & Stormy
- 1-1/2 ounces good dark rum
- 1 -1/2 ounces Pear Ginger Turmeric Shrub
- Ginger beer
- Lime juice & lime slice garnish
- Ice cubes
In a medium glass, add in your cubes of ice to mid-mark of your glass. Pour rum and shrub over the top, stir. Pour chilled ginger beer in to the top of glass. Squeeze of lime, stir and garnish with lime slice.
Plum Shiso Vodka Cocktail with Mint
- 1-1/2 ounces good vodka
- 1 -1/2 ounces Plum Shiso Shrub
- 3 – 4 fresh organic mint leaves
- 1 tsp cane sugar or honey (optional)
- Sparkling water
- Lemon juice & slice for garnish
- Ice cubes
In a “low-ball” glass, drop in mint and muddle with sugar. Add in ice to the rim. Pour in vodka, shrub and lemon juice and fill glass to the top with sparkling water. Stir. Garnish with lemon slice and mint leaf.
Additional cocktail ideas: Plum Shiso shrub is delicious stirred with equal parts cold sake and a slice of cucumber. Pear Ginger Turmeric Shrub poured over chilled prosecco with sprig of thyme is said to be amazing!