A Shrub for Summer Nights
Today, I’d like to introduce you to my favorite non-alcoholic drink: the fruity, tangy, vibrant shrub. Shrubs are drinking vinegars, and though there are lots of great ones on the market right now — UpMountain and Weathertop are recent wins — the most satisfying kind of shrub is the one I make at home.
This is because a shrub checks two boxes. First, the Delicious Box: Drinking vinegars are so good when you mix them with seltzer! The second is the Virtuous Box. You know how sometimes you look at the fruit bowl only to see shriveled peaches and liquifying plums that somehow didn’t get eaten at peak ripeness? The best shrubs begin with fruit that is teetering on the edge of rotten, so you can rescue that produce and feel like a food waste superhero.
They’re also easy to make — you just macerate your fruit for 24 hours (macerate = mix with sugar, which allows the extraction of the fruit’s natural juices), stir in some vinegar, chill, then strain. From there, you can drink your shrub straight, or do what I do: mix it with seltzer and garnish with herbs or citrus.
Here’s one I make so often I’ve memorized it.
Raspberry-Lime Shrub Mocktail
This makes enough drinking vinegar to round out into 3 or 4 drinks, but you should feel free to double it.
1 cup raspberries (you can use almost any kind of fruit that you’d use for jam, like berries, stone fruits, apples, pomegranates, or pears)
1/4 cup sugar
about a 1/2 cup vinegar (such as distilled white, apple cider, or red wine)
Combine raspberries and sugar in a bowl that is not metal. Mash berries with a fork or your fingers to release their juices, then stir with sugar until it’s the consistency of a loose jam. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter for 24 hours.
After a day, stir in the vinegar — you want a 1 to 1 ratio of vinegar to fruit, which will be around a 1/2 cup here, but play it by ear — and cover with plastic wrap again. Chill for at least another hour, but preferably more. (The longer it sits, the tangier it becomes.) Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, preserving liquid in a jar or measuring cup. That is your drinking vinegar.
When you’re ready for your shrub, fill a lowball with ice. Add one part fruit mixture with 3 parts seltzer. (Or more, to taste.) Add a squeeze of lime, if desired.
Thoughts? What are you drinking this summer?
PS The best non-alcoholic beer and “how I changed my relationship with alcohol.”