A shrub, also known as a drinking vinegar, combines fruit, water, sugar and vinegar. The resulting creation is flavorful, sweet and tart, lending depth and complexity to cocktails. But the beautiful hallmark of shrubs is that there are only two rules when making them: You need something sweet and something acidic. Typically, a variety of granulated sugar does the heavy lifting, but other sweeteners can also do the job. In the Shrubarita, maple syrup and beets offer that perfect one-two hit of character and complexity.
This recipe comes from Casey Elsass, the founder of Bushwick Kitchen, a company that produces hot sauces, maple syrups and honey. He combines the maple beet shrub with mezcal and lime juice for a creative riff on the classic Margarita. The drink also receives a salt-and-pepper rim, which brings a savory and spicy note to each sip.
Beets may seem like an odd or unnecessary addition to a shrub, but Elsass says they keep the sweetness in check by providing a welcome earthiness. You can make the shrub at home and keep a batch on hand for Shrubaritas and for experimenting with other cocktails. You can also drink it straight. One of the many benefits of shrubs is that they are great non-alcoholic options for when you want something healthy and flavorful to drink that isn’t boozy, caffeinated or loaded with artificial ingredients.
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked
- 1 3/4 ounces mezcal
- 3/4 ounce maple beet shrub
- 1/4 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- Garnish: Lime wheel
Pour the maple syrup onto a small plate. On another plate, mix the salt and pepper. Dip a rocks glass in the maple syrup and gently shake to remove excess before dipping into the salt and pepper mixture to rim the glass.
Add the mezcal, maple beet shrub and lime juice into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain the drink into the prepared glass, and garnish with a lime wheel.