Missoula, MT

What Is A Shrub Drink?

I'm constantly fascinated by exactly how mixed drinks get their names-- and also after browsing my reasonable share of bar food selections, there is one term specifically I have actually constantly pondered: the shrub. What makes a beverage a shrub? And also how did this word, which I associate with a clean garden, become related to mixed drinks?

"Shrub" is really the name of 2 different alcohol-related drinks, and also vinegar plays a pretty large function in this drink's background. One kind is a fruit liqueur that was particularly prominent in 17th century England, made with rum or brandy, sugar, fruit and citrus juice-- though vinegar was utilized as opposed to citrus to maintain berries in the off-season. This liqueur would certainly then be combined with flat or carbonated water to create an alcoholic drink. The other sort of shrub is a sweetened vinegar-based syrup that can be utilized to make a drink-- this is additionally called "drinking vinegar," as well as is typically infused with fruit juice, herbs and also flavors.

The history of the word "shrub" comes from the Arabic sharbah, which implies "a drink," though "sherbet" and also "syrup also come from this origin. Do I sense a style? Shrubs extend back to the Babylonians, that mixed date vinegar into water to make it risk-free to consume alcohol, as well as the Romans, who produced posca from integrating vinegar as well as water.

The very early English version of a shrub (additionally called a switchel) was inspired by 15th century medicinal drinks as well as a Persian polite called sekanjabin, made with honey and vinegar. Shrubs and also switchels were initially marketed as health and wellness tonics-- sailors consumed them to prevent scurvy and also to remain in "ardent spirits."

Given that shrubs are essentially a mix of fruits and also alcohol, they're quite carefully pertaining to punch-- the major difference is that punch is usually served quickly after mixing, while shrubs have a greater focus of flavor as well as sugar and also were usually stored for later usage (sort of like margarita mixer). At Christmastime, individuals would certainly blend shrubs with raisins, honey, lemon, sherry and rum, as well as was marketed in numerous British pubs via the 18th century.

The American version of the shrub is absolutely motivated by the English version. In colonial America, a typical shrub would certainly include pouring vinegar over fruit (generally berries) as well as letting it instill for several days, then stressing out the fruit, sweetening the staying fluid and minimizing it to a syrup. The end product was a sweet as well as sour syrup that could be blended with soda or into boozy mixed drinks.

Though the shrub declined in appeal as soon as refrigeration happened (who needs vinegar to protect fruit?), it's recently made a comeback in the US, Canada and London. The high level of acidity of the alcoholic drink makes it an excellent aperitif, as well as some bartenders utilize it in place of cocktail bitters.