One colonial American custom that should never go out of style? Sweet-tart shrubs.
Originally used as a means of preserving fresh fruits in the colonies, shrubs require only three ingredients: fruit, vinegar and sugar. That simple trio produces a tangy syrup that’s naturally thirst-quenching when paired with cold, sparkling water. No wonder shrubs were a big ole hit during summer’s hottest days.
The shrub has since evolved into a stellar cocktail syrup. Sweet and sour with endless options for customization depending on the type of fruit used, shrubs can and should be used in all of your summer cocktails. Starting. Right. Now.
A tale of two tarts: Fresh rhubarb and white wine vinegar join forces in this shrub to give your tongue a serious case of the tingles—and that’s a compliment. That natural tang is mellowed by the addition of cane sugar and a splash of soda water, but sour-seekers will still love the doubly-tart duo. The best way to booze this up? Add good tequila, lime and fresh mint. Get the recipe.
Sunny days demand sunny shrubs. Fresh pineapple is the answer. Macerated with sugar and blended with apple cider vinegar, the pineapple cubes lend bright acidity to this shrub that’s well-suited for a tiki-esque turn in a Pineapple Hop cocktail, made with rum, orgeat and a hoppy IPA. Get the recipe.
Can’t find huckleberries? Blackberries are a fine substitute in this well-balanced shrub. Fresh muddled figs bring the sweetness, huckleberries the earthiness and two types of vinegar—apple cider and red wine—add trademark tartness. Serve the crimson syrup with your choice of spirit, plus seltzer and lime. Get the recipe.
Let’s get savory. Fresh basil leaves and crushed black peppercorns give this otherwise fruity shrub a surprising grassy flavor and spice. You can use frozen blueberries and peaches, but why would you during the full throes of summer? Marry the fresh juices with cider and white wine vinegars and serve with the likes of gin, Pimm’s or Lillet. Get the recipe.
Ever tossed ripe mango wedges with cayenne or chili powder? If yes, you know that the coupling is a killer summer snack. The logical next step? Liquify it for maximum refreshment. Merged with cider vinegar and sugar, the resulting mango-chili shrub is a dynamite base for a cachaça cocktail, finished with Amaro Montenegro and lime juice. Get the recipe.