Not that long ago a friend asked me if I’d ever heard of drinking vinegars—sort of a fruit infused vinegar syrup otherwise known as a shrub. A lover of all things tart and tangy I was embarrassed to admit I hadn’t. I immediately set to work researching this trend and soon found out Portland’s renowned Pok Pok had been serving drinking vinegars since 2005. They recently started bottling and selling their array of flavors like apple, honey and pomegranate on their website www.pokpoksom.com.
It turns out drinking vinegars are an age-old practice. Thought to have health benefits many cultures have used them as a sort of tonic. They can be mixed with soda water for a refreshing soft drink or mixed into cocktails. Pok Pok’s restaurant and bar, the Whiskey Soda Lounge, serve an array of housemade cocktails that include shrubs like the delicious Hunny– fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, lime, honey drinking vinegar and tequila.
The trend is popping up at other bars along the West Coast including Villains Tavern in downtown LA. The Oleander, with leblon cachaca, fresh blackberry shrub, muddled lime, and lavender bitters, is one of the best cocktails I’ve had all summer.
Making your own shrub is easy and a great way to spice up dinner party cocktails (your guests will be impressed).
Here’s a recipe I made recently;
Hull and slice 1/2 pint of strawberries. Place them in a pot with 2 cups of apple cider vinegar. Bring to a boil, then remove the pot from the heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Strain out the fruit, then add 1/2 cup of simple syrup or agave nectar to the remaining liquid.
Strawberry Shrub Smash
Using a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon, mash two 1/2″ rounds of cucumber, 1 fresh hulled strawberry, 1 Tbsp. water, 1/2 Tbsp. agave and 1/2 -1 Tbsp. (depending on how much you like vinegar) strawberry shrub in a 16-oz. mixing glass or a cocktail shaker 4–5 times just to release juices and oils. Add 1/4 cup gin. Transfer to an Old Fashioned glass. Fill halfway with crushed ice, stir, then mound more crushed ice on top. Garnish with a cucumber round.