Nope, it’s not a plant that grows in your front yard.
A shrub is technically a drinking vinegar. The use of cocktail shrubs can be found as far back as the 17th Century. They are a liquid composed of fruit, sugar, and vinegar.
Shrubs have made their way into the craft cocktail bar scene due to their ability to enhance the flavor of a drink and add a sort of depth to cocktails that can’t be achieved with juice or sugar alone.
How to make a shrub?
There are many ways to make a shrub. My preferred method is to use a pressurized vacuum sealer. I fill the vacuum sealer bag with fruit & sugar in equal weights. I then seal the bag to remove all air and let the sealed bag sit a room temperature for 24 hours. During this time the sugar and fruit macerate completely. Maceration is the process in which the sugar eats at the flesh of the fruit and turns it into a juice. I then put this juice into a container and stir in an equal weight of vinegar. I recommend that you use a scale to weigh out your ingredients to get the best results. I put all of this (sugar/fruit/juice/vinegar) in a new vacuum sealed bag and keep it the fridge until the fruit is completely eaten by the sugar & vinegar. Lastly, I fine strain this mixture to remove any unwanted sediment and then I have a shrub!
Some of my favorite shrub flavors to make are:
Strawberry Basil, Peach, Concord Grape, Avocado Cilantro, the list could go on forever. Pretty much any fruit/herb combination is possible. Don’t be afraid to try something strange and see how it tastes!
Here is a video, from when I worked at The Nolen, of me explaining one of my cocktails, The Burning Bush. I originally created this cocktail when I worked at Tavern Law in Seattle but re-adapted it for San Diego when I moved down!
This cocktail features my homemade strawberry shrub.