Shrubs Make a Comeback in Cocktails and Food Recipes

by McEnearney on March 3, 2016


Drink more shrubs, they said. It’ll be delicious, they said. Well, “they” might be right.

Folks are taking it old school—and we mean really old school—by reviving shrubs, which are vinegar-based fruit syrups that date back to colonial times. During that time period, way before refrigeration was invented, people used vinegar to preserve fruits. Now, people are getting creative and putting together herbal potions to flavor everything from cocktails to salad dressings.

And you might imagine that a vinegar-based anything would be unpleasant, but in this instance, you’d be wrong. In fact, Charlie Berkinshaw, founder of the local company Element Shrub (bottled blends that can be found in retailers such as yes! Organic and Mom’s Organic Market), described the taste as a pleasant and interesting balance of sweet and tangy. “What I love about vinegar is that it has this really unique funkiness to it—it’s savory, it’s acidic,” he explained.

In addition to the interesting blend and combination of flavors, there’s also the reported health benefits that come with vinegar consumption. For example, many people sip on apple cider vinegar daily to assist with digestion and blood-sugar regulation. And when you relate that back to the shrubs that Berkinshaw and others sell, you get a much healthier food, drink or cocktail, sans the massive amounts of sugar that other foodstuffs might depend on for taste. “Even though you’re having a cocktail, it’s a much healthier version,” he reasoned. “If you can get your apple cider vinegar and your turmeric in one place and it tastes really good, and you can say you’re drinking a piña colada and can get all of that, then why not, right?”

Berkinshaw uses shrubs for drinks, of course, but also for salads, roasted veggies and even meat. If that didn’t raise an eyebrow, how about him pouring shrubs over vanilla ice cream?! Definitely different to say the least, but if your vanilla’s feeling a bit plain (it is vanilla, after all), why not try a tangy twist?

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