What to do with a bushel of nearly-gone fruit? Thrifty American colonists added some sugar and vinegar and made a sweet and sour syrup to last the winter. What did they call it? Shrub.
Don't worry, no one's hoping to add boxwood to your G&T, but increasingly modern-day mixologists are taking a page from their forebears in tri-cornered hats and working the delightfully acidic syrup into cocktail recipes.
Whether you plan to mix your shrub with seltzer or whiskey, here's a collection of shrub recipes that have tempted us this season.
Fresh Apple Shrub from Food 52; Photograph by Marisa McClellan.
Marisa McClellan shared her recipe for apple shrub on Food 52. She suggests that the versatile apple syrup can be used in cocktails, stirred into sparkling water or whisked into salad dressings. We'd be glad to try it in all three.
Plum Shrub from HonestlyYUM; Photograph by HonestlyYum.
Todd from HonestlyYUM used over-ripe plums and two kinds of vinegar to make his shrub. He's convinced you'll be happy after taking a sip of the sweet and mellow syrup. Plus, he dares you, "Try saying 'Plum Shrub' three times fast without smiling."
Peach Shrub from Brooklyn Supper; Photograph by Elizabeth Stark.
"If you were looking for the opposite of a schmancy cocktail, and you wanted something simple and down-home and good, surely then you would want a shrub," says Elizabeth from Brooklyn Supper. Head to the market this weekend to get the last of the season's peaches.
Calamansi Lime Shrub from Burnt Lumpia; Photograph by Marvin Gapultos.
Marvin set out to make a shrub inspired by his native Philippines. He used Calamansi limes and Filipino sugarcane. The result? "A shrub syrup full of bright, Calamansi aroma—think mandarin orange crossed with a lime."
Peach and Berry Summer Shrub from Oh So Beautiful Paper; Photograph by Nole Garey.
When Nole makes shrub, she doesn't stop with just one kind of fruit. She combined peaches, blueberries, and strawberries in a trifecta of summery tastes.
Cherry Balsamic Shrub from Reclaiming Provincial; Photograph by Carey Nershi.
Balsamic vinegar and cherries gives this shrub a moody hue. Carey from Reclaiming Provincial describes it as "wonderfully tart (and a gorgeous shade of red, to boot)."
Concord Grape Balsamic Shrub from Documenting our Dinner; Photograph by Brianne Looze.
Just in time for late summer, Brianne captured the flavor of Concord grapes in a balsamic vinegar-based shrub. She explains, "It takes a few days to put together, but the end result rewards you well for your trouble. The nostalgic flavor of Concord grapes is elevated by adding a bit of earthy balsamic vinegar, but the mixture retains brightness from a hefty amount of white wine vinegar as well. The shrub strikes a brilliant balance between sweet and tart." We'll take ours like she did, with whiskey.
Blackberry Rum Shrub from Saveur; Photograph by Nicole Franzen.
Impatient food preservationists, rejoice. This shrub syrup is heated for speedy results. You'll have a crimson cocktail in no time.
Strawberry Drinking Vinegar from Five and Spice; Photograph by Emily Kuross.
Strawberry season has come and gone and we're wishing we bottled up a taste of the season with Emily's recipe. We're saving the recipe for next year and taking a page from her book, fennel garnishes from here on out.
Rhubarb Shrub from Hungry Ghost Blog; Photograph by Andrea Gentl.
Andrea used a cold process to make a rhubarb shrub this spring, allowing the fresh rhubarb and sugar to stew on the counter for 72 hours.
Search our Cocktail Recipes for other festive drink ideas.