I started investigating fruit shrubs this weekend—no, not currant bushes, though I am in the midst of executing a new garden project that I hope will be photo-ready soon. No, what I'm talking about is a sweet, vinegared fruit syrup—a trend on which I am way behind. In investigating the mix, I found that refreshing drinks using shrubs date back to colonial days. Though I couldn't personally verify this claim, I did find an 1890 recipe for “Raspberry Shrub or Vinegar” here that seems to be pretty much the same idea.
Many modern bartenders are apparently now turning to the shrub as inspiration for cocktails—and I decided to follow suit with an invention of my own! What follows is a recipe for a Strawberry Dandy, a cocktail that would be perfect for a summer garden party or a Sunday brunch.
1 part strawberry shrub syrup
2 parts Dubonnet Rouge
2 parts seltzer, chilled
Combine strawberry shrub and Dubonnet Rouge in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Pour into a glass and top with seltzer.
For strawberry shrub:
1 teacup of water
1 teacup of sugar
1 teacup of roughly chopped strawberries (I used some pretty sketchy ones from the back of the refrigerator)
1 sprig of fresh lavender (this is a completely unnecessary grace note)
½ teacup of white vinegar
To anticipate objections, it doesn't matter how big your teacup is, as long as you use the same teacup for all measurements. Stir together water and sugar over a low flame to create a simple syrup. Add chopped strawberries and smash roughly to release juices. Simmer for approximately five minutes, then allow to “steep” for fifteen to thirty minutes more. Strain the syrup and discard (or devour) solids. Pour into a jar with lavender sprig and vinegar. This will keep in your refrigerator for about a week.