Shrub, that latest retro cocktail craze, is easy to DIY even if you’re not a hipster from Brooklyn. Here’s how to make shrub from vinegar, sugar, and fruit, whether peach, strawberry, blackberry, cherry, rhubarb, or whatever you fancy.
Shrub. It’s what all the cool kids are sipping the last several years thanks to the retro cocktail craze. And it’s so darn easy to make it yourself. We tell you exactly how to make homemade shrub below and the early results are being called “exquisite” and “exceptional” and “delicious” and “smooth.” Sorta makes you want to try it, yes?–David Leite
What Is A Shrub?
What is a shrub, you ask? If it sounds like it’s something served up by bearded hipsters in Brooklyn, that’s an entirely accurate, albeit not quite complete, depiction. It’s also a historic fruit preserves of sorts that’s essentially fruit syrup mixed with vinegar and sugar that’s left to ferment and later topped off with fizzy or flat water for a superb nonalcoholic sipper. But don’t take our word for it. Go on. See for yourself.
- 1-quart (1-liter) canning jar; 1-pint (500-ml) canning jar
- 1 cup crushed fruit (such as strawberries, peaches, apricots, plums, berries, cherries, or Concord grapes)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup vinegar (such as unfiltered apple cider, balsamic, sherry, or red wine vinegar) Herbs, such as basil or lemon verbena (optional)
- Herbs such as basil or lemon verbena (optional)
- Sparkling or still water (soda water, seltzer, or plain old tap water)
- Combine the crushed fruit and sugar in a 1-quart (1-liter) canning jar. Cover and shake to combine. Refrigerate for 1 to 3 days or until the sugar almost completely dissolves and the fruit releases its juices.
- After 1 to 3 days, pour fruit mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into a 2 cup (500 ml) glass measuring cup, pressing with the back of a spoon to release as much juice as possible. You should have about 3/4 cup (175 ml). Reserve the strained fruit for nibbling, spooning atop cake, stirring into prosecco, adding to sangria, dolloping atop yogurt, or any other use you can conjure. Stir the vinegar into the juice, transfer the mixture to a 1-pint (500-ml) jar, cover with the lid, and refrigerate for 2 weeks before serving.
- To serve, pour some fruit shrub in a glass and top it off with water. We find that a ratio of 1 part shrub to 4 parts water is a good starting place. Taste and adjust the proportions of ingredients accordingly.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
As I sip my fruit shrub, made with strawberries and sherry vinegar, I wonder if the guys who invented those brown fizzy colas occasionally stole sips from their wives’ glasses. (These shrubs seem girly to me for some reason.) The shrub is sweet, but not too sweet, a little fruity, and slightly sour. It’s a drink you sip rather than guzzle. When making my shrub, I let the strawberries and sugar hang in the fridge for the full 3 days. I stirred every 12 hours to help the sugar dissolve, which it never really did. The berries gave off just over 3/4 cup liquid. I scraped some of the undissolved sugar into the liquid and stirred that into the sherry vinegar. Off it went to sit in the back of the fridge for 2 weeks. The resulting syrup, all 1 3/4 cups of it, had the consistency of maple syrup. I poured 2 ounces of shrub into a tall glass and slowly poured in 8 ounces of club soda to preserve all the bubbles. Whether you add a shot of vodka is up to you.
“Exquisite.” “Exceptional.” “Smooth.” “Delicious.” Our testers loved our plum shrub. We chopped up the plums and mixed them with the sugar in just a matter of minutes. Then we let that sit in the refrigerator 3 days. We added apple cider vinegar and let that sit for 2weeks for a total of 17 days. This version is much smoother than any other shrub we’ve made and absolutely and completely wonderful on a hot day. Most of our testers added 2 to 3 tablespoons of the concentrate to bubbly water while the younger set added more to make a sweeter drink. If you and your crowd love this stuff, you will need to plan ahead. It is worth doing and we will plan to do so for summer get togethers. We have a batch sitting right now with raspberries. Peaches are next.
I made my fruit shrub with frozen pineapple, some mint, and a quality red wine vinegar and have been drinking it with lemon and lime seltzer water. It’s a refreshing, not-too-sweet drink to have after coming in from the heat. I only use about 1 tablespoon per serving as I don’t like my beverages very sweet. Using this amount would probably yield multiple servings. It took a little over three days for the sugar to dissolve. Perhaps if I had used a less sweet, juicier fruit it wouldn’t have take quite as long. The vinegar I used was an artisanal sweet and sour vinegar that tastes quite nice on its own. The shrub is a light brown color (yellow from the pineapple plus the reddish vinegar). When water is added and the syrup diluted the color doesn’t seem quite as brown. I think I might make this again with cherries at some point.
Originally published July 22, 2016