Shrubs, “The Zamboni For The Tongue”

It’s hard to sell to a guest the fact that he is about to drink a cocktail with vinegar. That was one of the obstacles when offering a “Strawberry Shrub Cake” a libation I created at a former restaurant. The Shrub is a delicious combination of vinegar and sweet (blueberry, pomegranate, strawberry -the possibilities are endless).  Think of a simple syrup done with vinegar instead of water. You can trace vinegar drinks back to the 18th century in America.  The berries and fruits came and went so quickly that people used vinegar as an acid to preserve them.  What the shrub does in a cocktail is serve as an acid agent helping to balance other ingredients and add a nice kick in the back of your throat. Learn to make The Strawberry Shrub Cake at

With pomegranates in season, Narren Young (Saxon & Parole) has created a deliciuos shrub with this fruit, using its seeds and a tablespoon of pomegranate molasses, left to macerate in cabernet vinegar and water, topped with a float of fino sherry, making it a perfect amuse-bouche that will prime your senses plenty for the coming meal.

Try Paul’s Club Cocktail by Jim Meehan’s up coming book, “The PDT Cocktail Book”

1 pound concord grapes   1 cup white wine vinegar    2 ounces gin    1/2 ounce simple syrup      1/4 ounce pastis.

1. Combine and crush grapes and vinegar in a nonreactive container, mixing every once in a while. Cover for a day. Strain, discarding the grapes. Reserve 1 ounce of the liquid. Refrigerate the rest in a clean jar for up to a month. (Add simple syrup and water to taste for a nonalcoholic shrub.)

2. Stir gin, the reserved grape liquid and simple syrup with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Pour in pastis.

Makes 1 drink.

Saxon & Parole 316 Bowery, at Bleecker St.

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