Raising The Bar The Perfect Shrub for Mixed Cocktails

Zona Vinegars are available exclusively at ZONA Food Market
Wine vinegar, the least regarded and unappreciated derivative of exquisite table wines is taking the lead in a series of dishes and coming to the front of top bars. Once considered bad wine it is shining as a culinary condiment on its own. Considered the poor man’s juice it is now considered rich, robust and flavorful used in culinary programs and mixologist themed drinks. 

Vinegar is essential to brighten the flavor of dishes or used as a base for a sweet-tart salad dressing. As vinegar can give meals that delicious acidity and flare, did you know that it can also provide bar drinks a distinct personality? 

Vinegar and alcohol may seem like an unlikely pair; however, mixing the two dates back hundreds of years. Derived from the Arabic word sharab which means “to drink,” shrubs are cocktails made by mixing vinegar syrup with spirits or carbonated water. But while shrubs have been around for hundreds of years, it was only in the last decade that they started trending in bars in North America and Europe. The acidity of vinegar makes a great alternative to bitters in cocktails. 

Shrubs also refer to the sweetened vinegar-based syrup used in the cocktails. And in many cases, shrubs are merely known as “drinking vinegars.” Shrub syrups are created by reducing fruit, sugar (or honey), vinegar, and water usually as 1 : 1 : 1 : 1 : 1 ratio and slightly reduce under moderate heat. Once cooked and reduced strain and you have a tangy, fruity syrup that’s perfect for mixing with carbonated water, tonic, and or gin, vodka. 

No two vinegars are the same, and even within types, flavors will vary wildly. Vinegars, like citrus, are the acidic counterpart to a base of oils and fats. Their tart pungency acts as a foil to the heavier notes to create a balanced complexity of flavor. The acid will deliver an overall freshness that elevates flavors.

Shrub Recipes You Will Love.
Here are some great shrub recipes you can try at home. Add them to gin or vodka for a fun alcoholic drink. They’re surprisingly easy to make, and you only need 1 oz of shrub syrup to bring a tang to your drink! But if you want a fruity yet tart mocktail instead, add these shrub syrups to a glass filled with ice and club soda. Children find these non alcoholic healthy alternative drinks fun as well.   

Blueberry Balsamic Shrub (title image)
  • 1 cup 50 Year Balsamic Pedro Ximenez Wine Vinegar 
  • 2 cups Blueberries
  • 1 cup Cane Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Mint Leaves
  • 1 cup Water

Mix the berries and sugar thoroughly in a large bowl with 1 cup of water bring to a simmer.
Add mint and 50 Year Balsamic Pedro Ximenez Wine Vinegar let it cool strain into a glass jar.
Refrigerate and serve. 
Cherry White Balsamic Shrub 
  • 1 cup Fino 12 Year Aged White Balsamic 
  • 2 cups pitted and halved Sweet Cherries 
  • 1 Vanilla Bean, split and seeds scraped 
  • 1/2 cup Cane Sugar
  • 1 cup Water

Mash up the cherries and sugar to create a lumpy paste add water and bring to a simmer.
Stir in Fino 12 Year Aged White Balsamic Vinegar, add vanilla bean and cover the mixture and let it steep in the fridge once cool for at least one day.
​When ready to use, strain the syrup into a jar.
Cherry White Balsamic Scrub
​Rhubarb Aged Moscatel Shrub (image below)
  • 6 ounces 15 Year Moscatel Wine Vinegar
  • 1 pound Rhubarb
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped Fresh Basil
  • 1 cup Water

Make a syrup by combining the sweet ingredient with water in a saucepan over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the fruit and bring the mixture to a low simmer. Let it cook until the syrup has become the color of the fruit, and the fruit looks very soft and cooked down. Stir in the 15 Year Moscatel Wine Vinegar and bring the mixture just to a simmer again. Strain the mixture into a jar, let cool and keep it in the refrigerator.

Simple and Ready to Serve

To serve, fill a tall glass with ice, pour a splash of the shrub and top it with seltzer water or a shot of alcohol – gin, whiskey or vodka.

Experiment and Make Your Shrubs 

Shrubs are made with fresh fruit, vinegar, sugar, water and leafy spices thus allowing freedom to experiment with your favorite fruits and vinegar that are probably already in your kitchen. When it comes to fruit, it’s best to stick with whatever is sweet, ripe and in season. 

There are also no strict rules when it comes to what type of vinegar to use; however, you should look for something that has an acidity level of no less than 5%; otherwise the flavor will be weak. You will find that white vinegar has a sharp taste while apple cider vinegar is fruitier and milder. Balsamic vinegar pairs nicely with berries while wine vinegar such as a Moscatel is a bit more superior in character with a bold oak flavor. 

*Zona Vinegars are available exclusively at ZONA Food Market
​Rhubarb Aged Moscatel Shrub

Leave a comment

Cart (0)

Looks like your cart is empty...