Have You Had a Shrub?

Today, we’re rounding out our month of favorite summer recipes with a drink — and not just any drink. To us, shrubs feel like the beverage of summer. Here’s why…

Shrubs — fruit- and vinegar-based beverages — are having a major moment. For many of us, the words “vinegar” and “delicious fruity drink” do not go hand in hand. But shrubs are sweet, refreshing and a little bit tart. As it turns out, using vinegar in cocktails dates all the way back to the 18th century, when it was used to keep fruit from spoiling. As a result, shrub mixes have a long shelf life and are perfect for drinking in the warmer months.

It’s no wonder these mostly virgin cocktails have been popping up everywhere from legendary NYC deli Russ & Daughters to the pages of Martha Stewart Living to Lena Dunham’s Instagram. Our friend Alpha drank them during her honeymoon road trip through the South and makes them with watermelon or rhubarb.

If you’re interested in trying it out, here’s a basic shrub recipe from Bon Appétit. It calls for any ripe fruit, so you can customize it however you like. Add spirits for a classic cocktail, or whip up a virgin drink — just add sparkling soda for a refreshing, summery beverage.

Have You Had a Shrub?

Summer Fruit Shrub
(Makes four servings)

What you’ll need:

3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 pounds ripe fruit (such as peaches, strawberries, plums, or pineapple)
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
6 ounces spirit of choice (typically gin, vodka or sparkling soda water)
2 ounces fresh lemon juice

Bring sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Slice fruit into pieces. Reserve a few pieces for serving and add the remaining fruit to the pan. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 30 minutes. Strain syrup into a bowl; stir in vinegar. Cover and chill shrub.

For each cocktail, shake 2 oz. shrub, 1 1/2 oz. spirit (or sparkling soda) of choice, and 1/2 oz. lemon juice in an ice-filled cocktail shaker until frosty. Strain into an ice-filled glass; top with some of the reserved fruit.

Note: If you’re patient, you can keep your shrub in the fridge for a few days before mixing cocktails, for a more intense flavor.

Have you tried a shrub? Would you like to?

P.S. More recipes, including rosé sangria and a classic margarita.

(Photos by Alpha Smoot for Cup of Jo. Shrub recipe by Rick Martinez, reprinted with permission from Bon Appétit. This series is edited by Caroline Donofrio.)