A Shrub that Looks Nice

Every time I hear a reference to the trendy drink syrup called a shrub,” a high-pitched British voice interrupts my brain mid-thought and says, “Brrrringg me a shrubberrrry….one that looks nice.”

I always have to stop myself from saying it out loud, because if you haven’t seen The Holy Grail (I mean the cinematic, not the biblical one), you might think I’m nuts.

So what’s a drink shrub? It’s an old-fashioned sweet-tart-fruity syrup that was originally a way to preserve an abundance of fruit with sugar and vinegar. It’s also sometimes called “drinking vinegar.” A shrub is basically equal parts good vinegar, seasonal fruit, and sugar. Some people add herbs and spices to make things a little more interesting. You can mix your shrub syrup with soda water for a great, not-too-sweet homemade soda. It’s also a great base for creative cocktails.

I myself am jumping on the shrub wagon rather late. The impetus is the 38th Annual Symphony of Food, Wine, & Art, for which I am organizing and conducting a series of artisanal food demonstrations. The idea is to take the best products made locally and showcase them in creative ways. It’s a great opportunity to talk about the importance of using good ingredients whether you make them yourself, DIY Delicious style, or buy them from a local artisan. Case in point: if you’re going to drink vinegar, it better be good vinegar.

The event is Sunday, June 23rd from 3 – 6pm at the Rohnert Park Community Center. Tickets are $45 and available here. That will get you tastes of lots of great food and wine. Highlights include award-winning sandwiches from The Farmers Wife using Harley Richter Meats. Yum.

Here’s what I’m doing:

Back to the shrub:

I didn’t know how to make a shrub so I turned to this recipe in Serious Eats. I started with the excellent black currant vinegar from Sonoma Vinegar Works, and a mixture of local blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries. But you could use stone fruit, melon, or other fruits. You could infuse aromatics like ginger, celery, or cucumbers, and of course, as I mention, you could add spices or herbs. Being my first time, I kept it simple. It was easy, fun, and it’s damn nice looking. You should try it yourself. Now where’s the vodka?

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