A few years ago, I was curious about a drink on the menu at Gjelina Restaurant in Venice, California, which was described as a fruit-based drinking vinegar. Huh? But the waiter convinced me that this so-called “shrub” was quite refreshing, as well as tangy and delicious. I instantly became obsessed!
Shrubs can take on limitless flavor combinations, so you can use berries, stone fruits, and melons with any number of herbs and even different vinegars, such as cider vinegar and red wine vinegar. Other flavor additions can be cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, ginger, vanilla, or almond extract. The key is the combination of sweet and tangy, so the sky is truly the limit. Just start with your favorite fruit — or whatever is in season — and be creative! — Pamela Salzman
Sparkling Blackberry Shrub
Blackberry shrub syrup (recipe below; use 1 oz per serving or use all of it to serve 12)
1 c apple cider vinegar, preferably unpasteurized
Chilled sparkling water or club soda (5 oz per serving or 60 oz to serve 12)
Blackberries and sprigs of herbs or edible flowers, such as mint, lemon verbena, salvia, or chamomile
1. To make the syrup: In a medium bowl, mash 1 cup blackberries with 1 cup sugar using a fork. Let sit about 15 minutes for fruit to get juicy.
2. Stir in vinegar. Cover and chill 3-5 days for flavors to meld. Strain syrup and transfer to a jar.
3. To make the shrub: For each serving, pour 1 ounce of syrup into an ice-filled glass. Add 5 ounces of sparkling water and stir to combine. Or combine all of shrub and sparkling water in a large, ice-filled pitcher.
4. Garnish with blackberries and add an sprig of herb or edible flower.
*Coconut sugar gives the drink a brown tint. If you want the drink to be more deep purple, you will have to use cane sugar.