Shrubs in Cocktails

A lot of classic cocktails feature known flavor elements such as sweet, sour, or bitter and during the current cocktail revival we are seeing an expansion of tastes and aromas such as vegetal and smoked. One of my favorite tastes in cocktails is savory and there is a large movement in craft cocktails with bartenders finding unique ways to add savory elements to various cocktails.

We can define savory as having a salty of spicy quality without being sweet and there are great ways classic drinks have already been implementing savoury elements without the drinker perhaps realizing it. Salt on the rim of a margarita glass helps provide the savory notes that may be absent to some drinkers avoiding sweet and sours, chili can also be a great item to infusion into cocktails to cut through the sweet or bitter elements of liquors such as Campari.

One of my favorite savory ingredients to make is something called a shrub. Shrubs are basically drinking vinegars which are simply fruit-infused vinegars that are sweetened to taste.

The preparation of shrubs can vary, but generally I use a complimentary vinegar such as cider vinegar or white wine vinegar, and let fresh fruit infuse into the vinegar over day up to a week depending on the fruit and my patience. Once the vinegar has taken to taste and colors of the fruit, its just a matter of heating slightly and sweetening with sugar to help cut the acidity and make it a little more palatable.

Heres an easy cocktail to try…

6 cl Bourbon Whiskey (Rye is also great to give a stronger whiskey profile)

2.5 cl Pineapple Shrub

1.5 cl Rosemary Infused Syrup

1.5 cl Fresh Lemon Juice

***Optional — top with 4 cl of Blonde Belgian Ale (help to give a better mouthfeel to the drink)

Check out the video for a more detailed review of different shrub making techniques.

Kevin.