Ever heard of shrubs? We're not talkin' about the bushy plants, but rather the fruity infusions that make for amazing spritzers and cocktails. They've actually been around for hundreds of years, when folks often used vinegar to preserve fresh fruit. And they're super simple to make! All you do is combine fruit, vinegar and sugar and let it sit around for a while. As the mixture sits, the vinegar pulls out the fruits' sweetness, giving you an intense, flavorful liquid you can enjoy without the typical vinegar pucker.
Oh, and the best part about shrubs is that there are so many different variations to make! Here's what you need to know before mixing one, along with a few recipes that are just perfect for summer.
1. It All Starts With the Fruit
You can use almost any type of fruit to make a shrub, from berries to stone fruits. Barely any prep is needed: just chop up larger fruits or gently smush berries! While you could leave fruit whole, it slows down the infusion process big time — so you might as well get a jump on it with a little slicin' and dicin'.
2. Pour Some Sugar On
Plain, white sugar lets the flavor of the fruit shine, but that's not your only option! You can use other varieties, like brown or raw, to give your shrubs a bit more complexity. And, honestly, any sugar is fair game — just keep in mind that some (think maple or coconut) can make a big impact on the finished flavor.
3. Top It With Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is the go-to for making shrubs, as its natural sweetness goes well with the fresh fruits and it's super affordable. But just like sugar, it's not your only option: balsamic vinegar pairs well with dark red fruits, whereas white balsamic vinegar is a nice match for lighter-fleshed fruits. Steer clear of white, rice or red wine vinegars, though — those varieties are super strong, which make them hard to swallow, even in a shrub.
4. Remember Your Ratios
A basic shrub is made with 1 part fruit, 1 part sugar and 1 part vinegar. (See? Easy.) But don't be afraid to play! Example: if you have a particularly tart batch of berries, you may want to add more sugar to the mix to keep everything in balance.
5. Bottoms Up!
Once your shrub is made, it's time to raise a glass! The easiest way to enjoy is to combine 1½ ounces of shrub with 4-6 ounces sparkling water to make a tangy, fruity soda. You can also add an ounce of shrub to a favorite cocktail recipe to give it a fruity twist.
How to Make a Shrub
OK, ready to make a few diffierent shrubs? Us too. Here are a few of our favorite concoctions — watch the video to score three cocktail recipes that'll make your shrub sing!
Place 4 ounces fresh raspberries in a closed container and gently crush them. (You can also add mint for a bonus flavor bomb.) Add 4 ounces white sugar and 4 ounces apple cider vinegar. Close the container and shake. Store in the fridge for 2-3 days. After 2-3 days, taste the liquid. Let steep longer for a stronger flavor. When the shrub tastes how you want, strain out the fruit and return the liquid to the fridge.
Substitute 4 ounces chopped, hulled strawberries for the raspberries and follow the same process. If you want additional flavor, thyme pairs well with strawberries.
Substitute 4 ounces chopped, pitted peaches (no peeling necessary) for the raspberries and follow the same process. Another mix-in option that pairs well with peach: oranges!