As lovely as a shrub

The shrub is back. What is a shrub? It is, in the simplest terms, a fruit infused mixture of vinegar and sugar; an acidulated syrup with the potential to transform an ordinary cocktail into extraordinary. Historically, shrubs in Colonial America were a way of preserving fruit and mixing the flavored syrup with water or soda water to make a pleasant drink. Shrubs, in England, usually referred to rum or brandy cooked with fruit, strained and served.

Strawberry Shrub vertWell, Colonial shrubs are back and for the past two years have occupied the best minds behind the bar. They fit nicely into cocktails, providing bartenders — with a single drop or ounce — a range of sweet and fruit modifiers. (Try our growing list of shrub cocktails here.) We’ve tried several recipes and have final adapted one for strawberries. You can substitute blueberries, blackberries, or pineapple for the strawberries. With the pineapple, trim and core the fruit before cutting into a 1/2-inch dice.

MDC Strawberry Shrub
1 cup apple vinegar
4 cups strawberries, stemmed and sliced
1 cup sugar

In a non-reactive pot, bring the vinegar and strawberries to a boil. Cover the pot. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the mixture steep for 2 hours. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Return to the heat and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a 1-quart jar. It can be used at this point or kept sealed in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. Makes about 3 cups.

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