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Clif Family Shrub & Specialty Cocktails

Post by Tom Inners

Derived from the Arabic word, sharab, shrub translates to English to mean “to drink’! Drinking vinegars as they are also commonly referred as, shrubs are a great way to capitalize on your favorite fruits of the season (and past seasons!) as well as a way to relive the freshness and vibrancy of these fruit flavors preserved in vinegar and reborn in an icy glass in your hands! A seasonal cocktail, or even a non-alcoholic aperitif to cool off on a hot summer’s day is something that needs no translation.

Having the height of shrub’s popularity arrive in the 17th & 18th centuries, they were commonly sold in public houses or ‘pubs’ throughout England, before falling out of fashion by the late 1800’s. Rum or brandy were some of the favorite spirit additions to the preserved fruit shrubs of this era. Christmas time in England would also see shrubs used for a base to holiday cocktails, often including raisins, lemons, and honey paired with sherry or rum. Historically, shrubs have found themselves in a similar camp with punches, however the advantage of shrubs being that they could be held for later use and longer storage than their sibling punches that required fresh fruit and immediate consumption. Largely what led to the disappearance of shrubs in the American home was the advent of home refrigeration.

Due to the addition of vinegar and the fruit’s natural acidity, a shrub’s acid serves as a prime substitute for bitters in an existing cocktail favorite, or as a perfect foundation for a new aperitif libation! Shrubs play well into the hands of cocktails that require a hit of acid where you made not want to insert say a traditional squeeze of lemon or lime. CLIF Family’s Blueberry and Melon shrubs are great examples of this versatility and creativity for your next cocktail concoction.

Perhaps the best part is that with shrub in hand, you’re just a bottle of sparkling water and a spirit away from a mixed cocktail. No expensive, or hard to find bar mixes or garnishes needed. Simplicity and freshness are the framework of the shrub cocktail.

Let us not simply push shrubs into the corner of just having practicality when it comes to crafting refreshing summer cocktails at home. Shrubs, being nothing more than seasonally preserved fruit bases also have great application on some of my favorite foods. I recommend giving shrubs a try poured over vanilla bean ice cream or a companion to your favorite maple syrup and drizzled over your buttermilk pancakes or Belgian waffle this weekend. The vinegar-led acid of a shrub also translates beautifully to building the base to your next seasonal dressing for summer salads.

Tom Inners, CLIF Family hospitality team, & beverage guru

Recipes:

Post-Ride Radler

  • 1 ounce shrub
  • 12 ounces beer (I suggest beers in the Lager family, Pilsners, or German-style Wheat Beers)
  • Stir gently to combine.
  • Serves 1

Arnold Palmer in the Rough

  • 1 ounce citrus shrub
  • 8 ounces iced tea or lemonade (or 4 ounces of each)
  • 1.5 ounces of bourbon (*optional)
  • Pour over ice and stir gently to combine.
  • Serves 1

CLIF Family Collins

  • 1 ounce citrus shrub
  • 1 1/2 ounces gin, vodka or bourbon
  • 8 ounces sparkling water or seltzer
  • Mix and serve with twist of lemon (or orange) and ice.
  • Serves 1
Aug 14, 2017