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Bring me a shrubbery: drinking vinegars in the modern age

Drinking vinegars have been trendy in Asia for years. The colonial version (“shrub”) was popular in the U.S. two hundred years ago but fell out of favor. In recent years, the humble shrub has been enjoying new popularity in the Slow Food movement, apothecary-style cocktails and the foodie world. Shrub is a fruit-infused, vinegar-based syrup that is usually mixed into soda water for a refreshing, non-alcoholic beverage. You can buy drinking vinegars commercially, but of course, it’s fun and easy to make your own. We made cherry shrub back in August. We have another blackberry shrub developing in the cupboard, and I hope we can put together a few more with our freezer full of fruit because I’ve become strangely obsessed with drinking vinegars.

Shrubs change over time as the flavors develop, and the cherry shrub has reached a state of delicious perfection. The vinegar mellowed a little, the fruit flavor shines and it’s not overly sweet. It’s simple to make a beverage.

Add soda water to shrub.

Stir to combine.

We went to Portland last weekend for Krista’s birthday and ate at Pok Pok, a restaurant known for their vinegars. We ordered the rhubarb and raspberry flavors. They were both really delicious in the puckery-sweet way you’d expect.

We also brought home a bottle of the tamarind flavor, sold as a bottled concentrate. We haven’t opened it yet, but I have high hopes.


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