Exploring Shrubs, how they are made and what the added health benefits they advertise to promote.
What is a Shrub?
In the drinks world, a shrub is a non-alcoholic syrup made from concentrated fruits, aromatics, sugar, and vinegar. Used by bartenders to add sweet, tangy, and tart notes to beverages, solid shrubbery knowledge can elevate a drink similar to the way bitters work.
A new trend or a revitalised classic?
Shrubs are nothing new having used as medicinal cordials in the 15th century, a way to preserve fruit, and revitalised as cordials in the Victorian era. The popularity of shrubs decreased when refrigeration became commonplace in peoples homes, however, they are now having a resurgence again. Helped by the growing nolo drinks category and the associated health benefits.
How to enjoy Shrubs
Traditionally, a shrub would be mixed with still, sparkling or soda water to create a sweet and tangy drink with more complexity than a cordial. Perfect for enjoying as an adult soft drink. Depending on the flavour profile of the shrub, you can also use the syrup, sparingly, to enhance the flavours of non alcoholic drinks. As mentioned before, mixologists called on shrubs like bitters and tinctures to add that 'special touch' to cocktails.
How to make your own Shrubs at home
Make your own shrub syrups at home by combining equal parts of fruit and granulated sugar. Leave in a fridge overnight and let the sugar extract some of the fruits' water content. Mixing the remaining syrup with equal parts vinegar will make a basic fruit shrub which can be infused with other herbs and flavours.
Heating fruit, vinegar and sugar over medium heat will give you a jam-like syrup. This can then be passed through a strainer, into a sterilised jar with the addition of vinegar. Chill overnight, and you have your very own fruit shrub.