A shrub is essentially an acidulated (read vinegar-based) beverage as old as history itself. In the days before refrigeration, it was pretty evident that without some means for food preservation, keeping items fresh was difficult at best. Food borne illnesses could be prevented or at least minimized by the use of an acid. In this case, the combination of vinegar and sugar when added to either fruit or vegetables contributed to a rudimentary food preservation system that has existed up to modern times. During the colonial era in particular, when daily labor was exhausting and folks needed something to cool off and reinvigorate themselves, shrubs were often drunk on their own. However, when a more festive mood took hold, shrubs were added to spirituous beverages, offering both a tart kick and a dose of healthy vinegar. Was the shrub the original health drink? Certainly it was used for good health, right up to the time when soda pop was invented, spelling the demise of the shrub. In recent years, however, a resurgence of old methods has taken the cocktail world by storm. In search of new and intriguing flavor profiles, bartenders have started making shrubs in house and, in doing so, creating a wealth of unique drinks. Shrubs are simply made with only three ingredients, a fruit (or a vegetable), sugar, and some type of vinegar. It does have to be aged after the mashing of fruit, sugar and vinegar, but that timing is really up to you. It can age quickly or over several weeks.
Below is a selection of shrub recipes and the drinks in which I’ve used them. You could easily customize your own beverage by adding a shrub to your favorite gin, vodka, and rum-based libations.
Preparation: Place the sour cherry preserves in a nonreactive bowl, and cover with the sugar. Let them steep together for at least overnight (or for a few days) at room temperature. Then strain the cherry mixture through a non-reactive sieve, crushing the tender fruits with a wooden spoon to extract as much flavor and sweet juice as possible. Combine with the vinegar; let the mixture sit for a few hours, and then strain into sterilized bottles.
Preparation: Place an ice cube in a rocks glass, and add 2 tbsp. of the sour cherry shrub. Add the dark rum and the maple syrup, and then top with a splash of fizzy seltzer water. Garnish with a lemon twist, and dot with cherry bitters.
Preparation: In a non-reactive bowl, combine the lime peels, lime quarters, sugar, and ginger. Stir to combine and coat all the fruit with sugar. Cover and leave at room temperature at least overnight or for 1 to 2 days. (Slow, cool fermentation gives a shrub its trademark bite.) Now prepare your shrub for aging. Set a strainer over another non-reactive bowl and pour the lime and ginger into the strainer. Use a stout wooden spoon to extract as much juice as possible from the limes and the softened ginger. Let the mixture sit for a few more hours.
Stir again, and discard the fruit chunks. Stir in the vinegar, and then use a funnel to transfer the shrub syrup to a sterilized bottle. Seal and then shake well to combine. Store the bottles in the refrigerator or at cellar temperature for 3 to 4weeks before using. Shake each bottle once or twice daily to help the sugar dissolve. When it’s mostly dissolved, your shrub is ready to use. Makes 1 1/2 cups. Keep refrigerated, and use within about 6 months.
Preparation: Add the Ginger-Lime Shrub to an old fashioned glass. Then add an ice spear. Top with the Rhum Agricole Blanc, the lemonade, and a splash of seltzer water. Sprinkle a pinch of fleur de sel into the drink, and finish with a couple drops of lime bitters.
Preparation: Add the roasted strawberries and rhubarb to a non-reactive bowl. Cover with the sugar, stir to combine, and cover it with plastic wrap. Leave at cool room temperature for 24 hours. Stir frequently during this time to combine as the berries and rhubarb give off their liquid.
Place a non-reactive strainer above a second non-reactive bowl, pour the fruit-sugar mixture into the strainer, and use a wooden spoon to mash the mixture in order to release as much liquid as possible. (Reserve the mashed fruit to use in cooking or baking, if you like.) Add the balsamic vinegar to the liquid, stir, and let the mixture sit for a few hours. Funnel into sterilized bottles or jars, and age for 3–4 weeks in the refrigerator. This shrub will last nearly indefinitely, but if it begins to quiver, dance, or speak in foreign languages, throw it out.
Preparation: Add the sugar cube to a Champagne flute (see below), and moisten with the lemon bitters. Then add the gin and the Squire’s Strawberry-Rhubarb Shrub, and top with Champagne. Garnish with a long lemon twist.
Note: To prepare this flute, combine very finely chopped lemon zest and sugar, wet the rim of the glass with lemon, and dip the glass into yellow-colored sugar.
Klaus and I were interviewed for my upcoming fourth book, Cannabis Cocktails! It will be aired Friday at 10 pm on WWOR-TV 9, Friday at 12 am FOX 25 Philly and Friday at 1 am FOX 5 NYC!!
Asheville is best known as Beer City USA, but there’s also a vibrant mixed drink scene, too. So this spring, the city will host a week-long celebration of mixology and fine craft spirits. Asheville Cocktail Week May 1-8 features an assorted of mixed drink events, including a Bloody Mary contest, a Cinco de May tequila tasting, a Kentucky Derby party and a spirits dinner. The week is a spin-off from The Asheville Wine and Food Festival.
Tickets are on sale Feb. 15, Kris Kraft, event director, said. Mixed drinks had been a component of the Asheville Wine and Food Festival, but with that element growing, it needed its own event, Kraft said. “We thought it would be best to remove it (from the Wine and Food Festival) altogether and highlight it in way all its own.” Venues include the historic S&W Cafeteria space, Malaprop’s Bookstore, the Smoky Park Supper Club and Ol’ Shakey’s bar. “We will have events in restaurants, event centers, bars, inside and outside,” she said.
Author Warren Bobrow, “The Cocktail Whisperer,” will do a reading and signing at Malaprop’s, the downtown bookstore.
Book signing with Warren Bobrow, May 5, Malaprop’s. Bobrow has written three books: Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today (2013), Whiskey Cocktails: Rediscovered Classics and Contemporary Craft Drinks (2014) and Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails: Restorative Vintage Cocktails, Mocktails & Elixirs (2015). http://cocktailwhisperer.com
Spirits dinner with Warren Bobrow with Beam Suntory, May 5 at the Historic S&W Cafeteria. Bobrow joins the dinner to share his lifetime of secrets and stories. The meal is prepared by Asheville chefs.
More details and information will be posted Feb. 15 at ashevillewineandfood.com/asheville-cocktail-week.
Today we have a guest and brand ambassador for Mezan Rum in the house, for a full week of episodes and then some. We first look at Mezan Rum, of course, where we get a full explanation of the product from the brand ambassador himself: Warren Bobrow.
Not only does he know a lot about Mezan, he’s also a well established and well known cocktail creator in the industry known by all the big names. He’s got four cocktail books with a fifth book on the way this spring. And, we get him for the week to make cocktails with us and shed knowledge.
What can be better than that? He’s a wonderful guy to talk with and friendly on top if it all. Can’t beat that! Now, let’s drink some Mezan, three bottles, three variations with three unique takes on rum.
Also, don’t forget to register to win the Warren Bobrow Treasure Island Refresher Kit from Craft Spirits Exchange!
Warren Bobrow’s Treasure Island Refresher: http://drinkc.sx/cocktailtv
Mezan Rum: http://bit.ly/getmezan
Warren Bobrow’s Books: http://amzn.to/1QLan4v
ABOUT Common Man Cocktails (CMC)
Common Man Cocktails, inspired by Derrick Schommer’s intimidation when opening a cocktail book, is designed to show viewers how to create some of the most common cocktails to advanced crazy cocktails and to look back at the classics of yesterday. Derrick has learned as he goes and has been actively creating five recipes a week on the channel for over six years, lots of content to keep you entertained for hours!
CMC will teach you how to make some great cocktail designs, give you ideas for new cocktails and introduce you to the latest spirits, liqueurs, syrups, barware and bitters. If you’re looking to become a cocktail enthusiast or need new ideas for your bartending trade, CMC is a great place to start.
By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer
I have this thing about fresh seafood. It must be the very freshest for me, as I demand only the very best that money can buy. Whenever I think about fish, it isn’t the kind that has rested in a freezer case- packaged in colorfully printed shrink wrapped-cryovac portions- sometimes for years before serving. Nor is it prepared in a boil in bag directly from the microwave like many chain-type restaurants serve, calling this fresh fish. They certainly have audacity for even calling this product; fish.
Whenever I travel to places that are famous for their seafood, I get hungry and thirsty! Usually at the same time. I’ve been doing a lot of book and cocktail events up in New England, so my sense of urgency only gets more profound as the weather (and the water) gets colder. Oysters and clams just taste more vibrant with ample salinity come the colder weather.
One of the places that I like to go to for the very best quality seafood that is somewhat close by if you live in the northern NJ or NYC/BK area, is named Seabra’s Marisqueira.
I’m a huge fan of this restaurant- with free parking available both next door and across the street. (Hint: bring five bucks with you to tip the attendant)
This attractive restaurant, looking more like the authentic seafood restaurant located in Portugal, was established in the late 1980’s. It is family owned and operated. They have been serving brimming plates of absolutely the very best fresh seafood available to the market every day since then.
They travel to the fresh seafood market in Hunt’s Point daily to ensure that the quality of their offerings say that this fish has never, ever been frozen. You really can taste the difference in quality and texture. I recommend this place very highly and gave them three stars when I wrote restaurant reviews for NJ Monthly Magazine.
Wine also tastes better with seafood that screams of the cold and unforgiving ocean. One wine in particular from the island of Australia, the Yalumba “The Y Series” Unwooded Chardonnay is perfectly geared to this kind of food. Flavors that speak clearly of the frigid depths of the sea. This wine is not a ‘butter-bomb’, nor is it all fruit-forward that most of all that you taste is cloying gobs of sweet glycerin and stewed fruits… It speaks a language of citrus zest rubbed on sea-salt slicked slabs of wet slate. It’s a most profoundly delicious wine at a very reasonable price.
At DrinkupNY a wine for under fifteen bucks is a very good deal indeed. And you can rest assured that the Yalumba drinks like more rarified wines, some costing three times as much.
It does not have a lick of oak! Stainless steel all the way! Screams for seafood. What else do you need to know except open your checkbook and buy a case! And because it is un-wooded, this wine will be as delicious today as it is a year from today. The Yalumba is both fresh and refreshing because it is not tainted by the curse that seems to plague many Australian wines, some costing much, much more. And that is the curse of over oaking wines.
Fresh Seafood for this wine should include a dish made famous at Seabra’s named Pork and Clams.
What they do is impossibly simple, yet brilliant with wines that speak a certain crispness across the palate.
I’m pretty sure that you’re not going to find Australian wines at a Portuguese restaurant, so put yourself into the very capable hands in this restaurant. And if you are preparing this dish at home, by all means chill down a bottle of the Yalumba Y Series wine and relax yourself for a while. Cheers!
Pork and Clams- Portuguese Style…
First you must marinade the pork butt for at least overnight…this is my marinade which I deciphered from eating at Seabra’s so many times.
2 pounds’ Berkshire (richer flavored) pork butt, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 bulbs garlic, peeled and smashed
2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup Yalumba Y-Series Chardonnay– go ahead, have a glass or two while you prepare this dish!
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
½ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, unstrained
1 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil (essential)
1 tablespoon Hot Spanish Paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 bay leaf
To Sautee the pork…
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons bacon fat or duck fat
2 cups chopped Spanish onions
4 tablespoon freshly minced garlic (NEVER used pre-peeled garlic cloves, it’s obscene and just lazy to use that awful stuff)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock (roast bones, add water, boil with aromatics and simmer)
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup tomato concasse’ boiled, peeled and de-seeded
5 pounds clams, in the shell, well purged and scrubbed (chill in the fridge overnight with cornmeal just covered with salted water, they’ll purge all the sand very nicely, leaving a non-gritty clam for your tasty cooking!)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Place the pork butt cubes into a large non-reactive container with a lid. In a food processor, combine the all the marinade ingredients except for the Bay leaf. Blend until smooth and pour over the pork. Close the container and place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Add the Bay Leaf separately to the marinade container and remove before cooking.
Place a large Le Creuset type Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and bacon or duck fat to the pan. Drain the pork from the marinade and set aside the marinade. Sear the pork pieces in the hot fat in batches, until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and do the same again so all sides are nice and crusty. Keep warm in a 200-degree oven while you finish all the pieces.
Add the onions to the hot fat in the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 4-8 minutes. Add the crushed garlic to the pan and cook for 50 seconds. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute. Do not let the flour burn!
Add the chicken stock and the tomato paste- with the salt and reserved marinade to the pan and stir to combine. Stir constantly until simmering uniformly. Return the pork to the pan, simmer and then cover with a lid and reduce the heat to quite low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender. I cook mine at least 2 hours if not more. Add the tomato concasse’ and clams in their (well-scrubbed) shells to the pan, stir to combine and cover. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the clams open, stirring occasionally, about 10-12 minutes. Remove the lid, reduce the temperature to low, and sprinkle with the Italian parsley and serve with your Yalumba Y-Series Chardonnay in chilled glasses.
Cheers from DrinkUpNY!
Warren Bobrow is in town for tomorrow’s filming. As part of the event I have teamed up with The Craft Spirits Exchange to offer the Warren Bobrow Treasure island Refresher. And our US resident fans can sign up to win!
From the author who brought us Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today as well as Bitters and Shrub Syrup: Restorative Vintage Cocktails, Warren Bobrow is no stranger to cocktail writing. He is known as the cocktail whisperer so when we this soon-to-be released title we knew we were in good hands.
With the U.S. slowly progressing to ending another prohibition, Bobrow intellectually and scientifically digs into cocktails infused with cannabis. Whether this is the wave of the future or not, this has probably crossed your mind. Bobrow leads us into a world that had no guide and puts it all on paper. Expect this one to get a lot of attention! Pre-order here.