For quite some time, I have been writing about different home-made ingredients and the cocktails using them. But somehow I completely managed to forget writing about shrubs. Shrubs, the drinkable ones, not the small trees, are rather easily made and can be stored for a long time. The perfect, easy to make and store ingredient.
Normally, I use shrubs to preserve fresh fruit in the summer, but since I have been getting a lot of apples lately, I needed a way to store those in a convenient way. After preserving them in many different ways, I finally thought about using them in cocktails. So I went ahead and made a shrub.
I found the recipe for the following shrub in the wonderful book about shrubs by Michael Dietsch. It features a ton of recipes and provides a great introduction into shrub making. If you want to learn more about shrubs, their history and how to make them, I recommend getting this book as it is a great addition to every mixologists library.
Apple Cinnamon Shrub
Shred the apples and pour the sugar, vinegar and spices into a non-reactive container. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the shredded apples and seal. Store in a cool place for up to two days, then strain the mixture into a clean bottle.
The whole process didn't take any longer than 30 minutes, which included hand-shredding apples as well as taking lots of pictures for this blog. If you decide to shred the apples by using a food processor, you will be done in just five minutes.
Below you can see how easy it is. The best thing about this shrub is, that all ingredients are readily available all year round. Click on the images to view them in full size.
With such a wonderful shrub at my disposal, the only thing left to do was to come up with a good cocktail. At first I tried to combine the shrub with tonic water, but that was no great combination. I tried it neat and decided that it needs the company of a strong spirit with lots of character. That left me with some nice Barbados rum.
Pour the rum, shrub and syrup into an ice-filled shaker and shake for 10 seconds. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass and top up with a bit of mineral water.
Obviously rum and lime are a great pair. But I was surprised to see just how well the shrub fits in. The tanginess of the shrub, combined with the strong rum flavor is a good mix. Some sweetness to balance the overall flavors, provided me the chance to find another use for the lime syrup from last week. A very fruity and pleasant cocktail with harmonizing flavors.
A splash of mineral water softens the strong flavors. All the other ingredients have a very bold taste and without further dilution I found it rather unpleasant. However, as soon as I added some water, everything came together perfectly. I suggest adjusting the amount to personal taste. You can omit the mineral water, if you shake for a bit longer so the ice has more chance to melt.
When using different rums, it is a good idea to adjust the amount of shrub. Since I used a strong Barbados rum, the flavors are not overpowered. But I can imagine, that when using a more gentle rum, the amount of shrub needs to be reduced.
Shrubs are a wonderful thing. They last a long time, are easy to make and provide a great base for non-alcoholic drinks. I use them not enough in my recipes, but I'm sure I will come up with some nice shrub ideas in the future. Fruit, vinegar and sugar is such a simple recipe; the room for experimentation is vast.
Next week, I will participate in the last Mixology Monday ever, which makes me sad, but also motivates me to bring my A-game. If you like to see what I come up with, you can follow me on Twitter or subscribe. Do you have any interesting shrub ideas? Leave a comment below!
Title image via pixabay.