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The quick guide to shrub cocktails


If you’re looking for a cocktail with a difference to serve your guests, consider taking out that bottle of vinegar from your kitchen.

A shrub cocktail is a mixture of fruit, sugar, water and vinegar, which results in a beverage that’s sweet with a slight spike of tartness. Shrubs can be quaffed alone with a bit of soda water or paired with your favourite liquors.

Ingredients for syrup in a shrub cocktail

Peach Shrub
By Edsel L
Shrub syrup can be mixed with a variety of liqueurs for creative cocktails.

Fruits like berries, peaches, plums and citrus fruits. Fresh herbs like mint, thyme, basil and rosemary are also great for use in shrub cocktails.  Use basic refined cane sugar to start. While the sky’s the limit on the vinegar to use, it won’t hurt to begin with red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Be sure to experiment with balsamic, white vinegar and other fruit vinegars to find a taste you like.

Preparing the syrup

There are three common ways to make the syrup for a shrub cocktail. You can cook it on the stove or macerate it for several hours in the refrigerator. Another method infuses the vinegar with the fruit over several days.

Shrub syrup
By Barnaby
After mixing with sugar and vinegar, fruit macerated in the fridge will produce a liquid that can be used in shrub cocktails.

The stovetop method is the quickest. Simply add equal parts of sugar and water to a saucepan, then heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the fruit and simmer until the fruit’s juices blends into the syrup. The Electrolux Maxiflame affords precise control over your flame with its dual valve burner controls, allowing you to quickly bring liquids to a boil, then quickly adjust it to a simmer.

Once the mixture has cooled, strain out the solids in it. Add vinegar to the syrup and store in the fridge in bottles.

Making the cocktails

You can use shrubs with many different liqueurs, such as rum, vermouth and sherry.  Just remember, it’s already acidic so avoid pairing it with citrus juices or liqueurs, or use them carefully.

Other factors to consider include how the sweetness of the shrub balances with the sweetness of the liqueur. You can also combine a small amount of syrup with liqueur and top with club soda for a lighter, more refreshing drink.

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