What is a shrub? Part II

So, it seems like whenever I tell people I am making shrubs I’m missing something in my explanation. I know it’s me. It’s always me. But I can’t figure out how to make it understandable.

To me, a shrub is a soda or cocktail base. It has fruit and vinegar in it. That’s it.

Shrubs were conceptualized long before refrigeration when peeps wanted to preserve their fruit. They added vinegar to it to keep it going longer. Wicked smaht (Massachusetts accent. I can say that because I live here. Don’t even try it). To reiterate: shrub making is an awesome way to use up some fruit that is turning. Don’t throw it away! Shrub it! Shrub on!

Usually in conversation I keep answering the same questions about my shrubventure.

“Is there alcohol in it?”

No. You can put alcohol in it. That’s pretty much the purpose of a shrub but you can use it as a soda base or drink it on it’s own if that’s yer thing.

The follow up is always “So, what about… what about if I mixed one with like soda water? I have one of those Soda Streams and I might like to use it with that….”

Yeah. It would make a nice non-alcoholic drink for a school night or before a 5k. Def.

735ec6d6-f822-48a0-b033-be1825b02e70The other day my sis and I went to a swanky inn up in New Hampshire (da Hamp. I can say that because I lived there. You can use it. I’ll let ya). They are pretty progressive for New Hampshire (I’m just the messenge-shire!). Their cocktail program (I love to say “cocktail program” as much as I love to use parenthesis right now) had a lot of cool, inventive mixology on it. Some typical “Moscow Mule”, “Caiprihana”, and my new favorite… um…. I can’t think of my favorite… paloma? palermo? (What’s with you and that Connie Palermo chick?). Yeah, it’s “Paloma”… they may not have had a Paloma but they had some version of Paloma. And I ordered it. And chugged it but quick.

Anyhoo then BOOM! There on the list the ingredients to a drink that I would never order because I never have – a Pimm’s Cup with a shrub ingredient! pimms-cup-2

Get this though, the spelled it “shrubb”.Why? Is the b silent? Typo by the typee?

So I had to ask: “What kind of shrub(b) is in your Pimm’s Cup?” (And can you put it in a soda base? JUST KIDDING!).

Answer: “It’s just a regular shrub(b)”.

Insert frown face. She went on to say “You know apple cider….” and in my nervousness I responded “Oh, yeah yeah yeah…. right. Thanks”. I wish I let her go on. What is the matter with me? My years of cocktailing and waitressing kept me from asking further. I also could have asked to try it and compared it – sustain the research and development on this game.

I could have learned something! And maybe taught something!

To be fair, the bartender was super friendly and attentive and seemed like a pretty nice person to hang around with quite frankly. I blame myself.

“It’s just a regular shrub” became the catch phrase for the rest of the weekend.

I got a little busy

Starting a business (or businesses in our case) is time consuming! Wow!

While working hard to keep working hard, we were conducting a ton of experiments with our shrubmaking. Our main goal is to find the right recipes for our shrubs to that they are credible bases for in-credible cocktails.

Some of the experiments we are conducting:

  1. Which vinegars work best for which fruits?
  2. Do we really need to keep the mix in the fridge for at least a week before using, as we’ve read? How does the process change during a week? Or more?
  3. Is the cold process truly best or could we employ the hot process for better results for certain fibrous fruits?
  4. Do I have to placate Andre and name all the shrubs after Grateful Dead songs? (answer: no)

We’ve been taking good notes and drawing some common conclusions.

For instance, the pineapple shrub I started – I found that apple cider vinegar is going to change the color of the shrub after only 5 days. This is fine for at home but for marketing purposes, not so good. Who wants a brown pineapple bevy? Not me!

Also, white balsamic, while strong at first, can mellow after a week and really balance well with pineapple.


Just sayin’

Kiwi Shrub Blind Tests

Andre and I tasted the vinegar/fruit concoction after 5 hours of refrigeration. We documented the experience and did not share with one another. We smelled the shrub before we tasted and considered the various characteristics, feel, initial taste, after-taste, the size of the vinegar bite and whether we found the sugar to vinegar balanced. I had a friend who started a massive candle operation who told me about the cold throw and the warm throw with regard to the scent of a candle.. The cold throw is the aroma the candle produces when you pull off the top of the jar, before it’s lit. The warm throw is the the scent of the candle as it’s burning. It’s something I never thought about before; that the scent of a candle can be very different depending on whether or not it’s lit. We didn’t heat these shrubs. I just wanted to share that. It seems somewhat analogous.

img_2372Tonight marks the fourth day the mixture has been in refrigeration. Andre and I pulled out our notes from the other day but did not read them. Still, without sharing, we tasted again and recorded our findings. What we did share and agree on was that the shrub characteristics did in fact change after a few more days of refrigeration.
We will test again this Sunday. In the meantime, I began making a pineapple shrub.

Kiwi Shrub


We headed to the store this morning to get some shrub fixin’ fixings. 3 lbs of kiwi fruit cost 5.49 and I found it yielded, along with the juice they deposited on my shirt, roughly 3 3/4 Cups of fruit.

File_004 (1)

I let the fruit sit overnight in a Pyrex container with about 1 C of white, non GMO sugar and when I checked it this morning the fruit had produced a bounty of sugary juice. The juice tasted like straight kiwi; a perfectly balanced, sweetly sour lush and hardy pulp. The sourness did not assault my flavor buds (thanks, buds!) and the impression of the sweetness was delicate. Seems perfect for the kiwi shrub.


The traditional shrub recipes I had been following offered a ratio of sugar to fruit that was often too sweet for me and I was hardly tasting the fruit juice. Once I married the sugar/juice concoction to the vinegar, while the taste was familiarly fruity, I wasn’t able to discern what fruit I was drinking a lot of the time.

My experiment with the kiwi shrub was to test the sugar and vinegar ratios to the fruit juice and this seems to be working at this stage. I taste much more fruit than previous attempts.

The overnight and straining of the fruit yielded about 1 C of fruit juice for the shrub base. I was hoping for more. IMG_8764

But you can see in the bowl there is still some liquid even though I used a slotted spoon to dig out the pulp. Andre likes to use the left over fruit for his morning oatmeal, which I call groats. This is what we use the left over sugared fruit for. Andre’s groats. Groatmeal.

I put the left over fruit into the food processor and gave it several pulses. The result was about another 1/2 C of juice. After eating few spoonfuls of the kiwi pulp I put the rest in a Pyrex container for Andre’s groats.

Since the purpose of this shrub experiment was to play with the types of vinegars and the vinegar to fruit juice ratio, I took 1/4 C of the juice and put it into a bottle and added a specific amount of a specific vinegar to it. I did this three times with varying amounts and vinegar flavors. The bottles were labeled #1, #2 & #3 and I wrote down the recipe. After few hours of refrigeration, Andre and I will taste and document. For Andre this will be a blind test. He is the one who introduced me to shrubs after having one in a bar in the pacific northwest. I have only tasted my own shrubs with the guidance of some research. It will be interesting to see what we come up with and if we can connect on the characteristics of the shrub results and if this one stands up. In another week we will test them to see how and if the infusion has changed.


photo credits thephotographer.design

What is a shrub?

A shrub is a fruit and vinegar infusion for modern cocktails and sodas. I make my shrubs by macerating a variety of fruit with a sugar. After a long waiting process the fruit and sugar mixture is combined with a complimentary vinegar.

Through special order, my shrubs are available to add to your cocktail program. I also make shrubs for private use. They make great gifts! shrubs@modern-cocktail.com


photo credits thephotographer.design