September 1, 2015

The Revival of Shrubs & Book Giveaway


Have you ever tried a shrub? And no, I’m not referring to the short, bush-like plant under your window sill. The shrub I’m referring to is tangy, sweet, and delightfully refreshing, an invigorating blend of fruit, sugar and vinegar. These trend-setting cocktails and sophisticated sodas were popular during the Colonial Era to preserve fruit long after harvest. Once crafted, the shrub can be mixed with water, sparkling water, sparkling wine or something stronger like rum to offer wonderful refreshment.

Shrub Cover
Shrubs Book Cover (Photo by Jennifer Hess)

Last week, we shared about Happy Girl Kitchen’s artisanal shrubs. This week we're showing you how easy it is to make your own with a little help from Michael Dietsch, author of the book Shrubs, and a few of his delicious sweet & savory shrub recipes. We will have you mixing and macerating like a pro!

Dietsch has done a great job of breaking the book into sections, beginning with a well-researched tour through the colorful beginnings of this captivating drink, charting its journey as a flavored soft drink tablet, to its heroic role in warding off scurvy. However, the popularity of the drink had pretty much languished until 2004 when The Wall Street Journal spoke about the intriguing nature of shrub cocktails and promoted the handful of boutique firms dedicated to making small batch shrubs.

Michael Dietsch (Photo by Jennifer Hess)

Today, the shrub is experiencing an urban craft revival and we couldn't be happier. We hope these recipes get your creative fruit juices flowing and that you mix up a batch of shrubs for your next dinner party. Not only will your guests love trying the latest trend-setting soda or cocktail, it makes for a great conversation starter.

We're so happy to have a copy of this awesome
book to give away to one of you!
Here's How To Enter -

To win a copy of Shrubs, simply leave a comment below answering this question by Tuesday, September 15, 2015 (one entry per person please).

What is your go-to mocktail/cocktail?

No purchase required. Limit one entry per person, please. Entries will close on Tuesday, September 15, 2015 at 1:00 pm. Winner is chosen by Random Number Generator and announced on our blog on Tuesday, September 15, 2015.

 Thank you for all the delicious comments! 
The winner chosen at random is Melinda and Mary who said:

Melinda: My new cocktail obsession is the Prohibition Era "Bees Knees". A divine blend of Gin, honey simple syrup and lemon juice. Perfectly balanced sweet & sour, utterly refreshing and I 'almost' feel downright healthy drinking it. Taking the time to make my own syrup with a local Buckwheat honey elevates a great drink to perfection! 
Mary: I love to crush fresh basil and mint with a mortar and pestle. Add simple syrup, a splash of ginger beer, soda water, and a splash of whiskey and you have yourself an herbal mule.

Apple-Cinnamon Shrub
Cinnamon-Apple Shrub (Photo by Jennifer Hess)
This shrub is a simple evocation of fall, with apples, cider vinegar, and cinnamon. I used turbinado sugar here because it’s a little richer than white sugar and I felt it would add a caramel note to the shrub.

If you have an urge to push this one closer to a classic apple-pie flavor, a little nutmeg in addition to the cinnamon wouldn’t hurt. I would crack a whole nutmeg in half and add half a nutmeg alongside the cinnamon.

3 medium apples, quartered
(no need to core or seed them) 

1 cup apple cider vinegar 
1⁄2 cup turbinado sugar 
2 cinnamon sticks


1) Using a box grater or a food processor, shred apples.

2) Add shredded apples, cider vinegar, sugar, and cinnamon to a nonreactive container. Cover and leave in cool place on the countertop for up to 2 days.

3) After 2 days, place a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl. Strain apple mixture. Squeeze or press apple mixture to remove any remaining liquid.

4) Pour liquid into clean mason jar or glass bottle. Add lid or cap and then shake well to combine. Place in refrigerator.

5) Discard solids.

6) Shrub will keep for up to 1 year.

Cucumber Shrub (Photo by Jennifer Hess)

Perfect for pairing with gin. Splash a teaspoonful into your next martini for a subtle addition that will make your martini taste extra fantastic. I used a blend of white wine and apple cider vinegars here because I didn’t want the delicate flavor of the cucumbers overwhelmed by the cider vinegar. The salt is here because I wanted this shrub to taste a little more savory than the typical fruit shrub.

2 large cucumbers
1⁄2 cup white wine vinegar
1⁄2 cup apple cider vinegar
1⁄2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1) Add cucumbers to the blender. Blend till pureed.

2) Press puree through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl.
Add cucumber juice, both vinegars, sugar, and kosher salt to a jar or bottle. Shake very well to combine and refrigerate till cold.

Mix with water, sparkling water, sparkling wine or something like rum for a little extra kick. Typically you would use a 1:4 ratio when mixing a shrub mocktail/cocktail, however, taste as you go to find your preferred ratio.

Reprinted with permission from Shrubs written by Michael Dietsch and photographed by Jennifer Hess (Countryman Press, © 2014)