The Shrub Is the Simplest Sour Drink You Can Make

The next time you’re reaching for a lime or a lemon to contribute to a mixed drink, think about making a shrub instead, recommends Erin Healy, drink director of Gramercy Tavern in New York City.

What is a shrub?
Shrubs are concentrated, vinegar-based syrups that have actually been either instilled with or made from flavorings like fruit, flowers, and chiles. Shrubs have been around for centuries and were initially produced to maintain herbs and roots by turning them into edible casts. They consist of no alcohol, and their silky weight– similar to the texture of amaros and liqueurs– likewise brings body and depth to non-alcoholic mixed drinks, a section of the drinks market that was an early adopter of the vinegar-based syrup. More just recently, shrubs are enjoying a renaissance on cocktail menus around the country, as bartenders utilize them to bring brightness and acidity to boozy beverages.

” A shrub opens an entire new dynamic set of flavor profiles to give a mixed drink outside of the standard lemon, lime, or grapefruit,” says Healy. And a little goes a long way. “We never ever use more than a little quarter-ounce of vinegar in a cocktail that may otherwise take up to an ounce of citrus to develop balance.”
Strawberry Chili Balsamic Shrub
Shrubs can be seasoned with just about anything, from chile and strawberry to vegetables (like the celery-flavored shrub listed below from NYC bar Katana Kitten’s owner and self-proclaimed “director of deliciousness” Masahiro Urushido). Do not care to make your own? Try one of our favorite cocktail-ready bottled shrubs.

3 top-shelf shrubs to try
Kosterina Crushed Strawberry Vinegar
The essence of strawberry caught in a bottle, Kosterina’s sweet and tasty strawberry shrub is made of gewurztraminer vinegar from Greece. Mix it with smoky mezcal to bring out the roasted berry notes, or include it to an herbaceous gin & tonic. $15 at kosterina.com

Pink House Alchemy Pineapple Rosemary Shrub
Sweet pineapple is stabilized by tart vinegar and woody rosemary in this unexpected shrub from Fayetteville, Arkansas. It makes a terrific addition to a piña colada on the rocks, or sip it solo with some seltzer. $18 at pinkhousealchemy.com
Acid League Citrus Saffron Syrup
Vinegar brand name Acid League’s just recently launched Ultimate Cocktail Kit includes this shrub, which combines aromatic saffron with 2 kinds of vinegar: plantain and orange. It pairs completely with sweeter spirits like rum or brandy. $145 for the Ultimate Cocktail Kit at acidleague.com

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