“Drinking vinegar” sounds like some antiquated Victorian health treatment. In actuality drinking vinegars, or shrubs, are concentrated fruit-infused syrups made with vinegar instead of water. They are deliciously complex, with a sweet yet tart quality that is refreshing and feels a bit exotic. A few months ago I was introduced to the greatness of shrubs when I was given a magnificently hued bottle of blood orange. Unsure of what to do with it, I poured some into a glass of sparkling water and was amazed with what a vibrant drink it created.
Summer afternoons beg for ice cold beverages, and I always get the itch to come up with something exciting to make quenching thirst feel like more of a special event. Shrubs are a simple way to liven up your drinks. Pour some in prosecco, use as a cocktail mixer, or add a dash in fizzy water if you’re going for a non-alcoholic refresher or palate cleanser.
I used the cold-processed method outlined on Serious Eats here for some strawberry shrub. It is unbelievably easy. Next up, cherry!
1 cup berries or fruit
1 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
(You could also use red wine or balsamic vinegar depending on the flavor you’re shooting for.)
Cut berries into quarters or smush slightly if you are using a different kind of fruit. Put in a bowl and cover with the cup of sugar. This looks like a lot of sugar. Don’t be scared.
Cover and leave in the refrigerator to macerate. You’ll see the sugar start to extract the juice from the fruit. The sugar melting process, as I like to call it, can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Leaving it in longer for good measure doesn’t hurt anything so if you’re unsure, go for it.
Strain the syrup from the fruit.
I didn’t see any sugar in my bowl so I thought I was golden, but there was a big pile of it hanging out under there. Not a big deal; don’t stress!
Gently press the fruit to get any lingering juice.
Add the vinegar and the remaining sugar.
Whisk away. For my strawberry and apple cider vinegar combo, the sugar dissolved as I was whisking. If it doesn’t dissolve right away, the acid in the vinegar will cause the remaining bit to disappear after the shrub is in the refrigerator for a few days.
Funnel into a clean bottle and give a good shake.
Store in the refrigerator and shake periodically. Keeps for up to a year.