Berry Shrub

Between Rick, Eric and David there have been more than enough reasons for me to bring up the topic of Shrub. I first came across Shrub when I had purchased my first copy of Bon Vivant’s Companion, and was immediately intrigued and repulsed. Raspberries? Check. Sugar? Check. Vinegar?!?! Are you freakin’ serious? What possible reason can you give me to put bad wine into my cocktails?

Well, palates and paradigms change, so after giving it some careful thought, I’ve decided to give the lowly Shrub a chance. Why the change of heart? It came to me as a drunken angel in the night, puking on my shoes. Vinegar, (like vomit) is merely acid! I could use the shrub to help balance sweetness in a cocktail in much the same way I would use lemon juice or even bitters (but not vomit).

Reinvigorated with new ideas, I decided to pull out Jerry’s book and look at that first recipe of Shrub I had discovered years ago.

JERRY THOMAS’ RASPBERRY SHRUB
3 gallons of raspberry juice
2 do. vinegar
48 lbs. of sugar
Boiled and skimmed for half an hour; when cold add 1 ½ gallon of good French brandy. Filter.

Getting the gist of the recipe (I rarely follow Jerry’s recipes to the letter, but rather use them as guidelines) I set about making my own batch of Shrub. Recipe to follow much further below.

Having completed and tasted the Shrub, I quickly realized that it wasn’t nearly as horrible as I’d thought it might be. As a matter of fact, it was darn tasty. Tangy dark fruit balanced by acid and sweetness enveloped my palate like a satin sheet. This may very well be my next “new” ingredient that I’ll over use in my next hundred cocktail creations! Let’s start with cocktail number one!

When I was creating this first cocktail, I realized that the drink had all the hallmarks of Paul Clarke. We all know that he has always loved rye, that he has recently had an affair with sherry, and that he has always been a champion of things home made. When he came into Vessel the other day, I made the following cocktail for him, of which he approved. The issue now, for our dear friend Paul, is where else is he going to be able to order this pleasant libation? And therein lies….

CLARKE’S CONUNDRUM
2 ¼ oz rye
½ oz Pedro Ximenez Sherry
½ oz raspberry/blackberry shrub
3 dashes of Angostura bitters
lemon twist
stir all ingredients with ice
garnish with lemon twist

This is quite the complex concoction, with the acid of the vinegar showing up to balance out the PX, but without forcing itself upon your nose or palate. The spiciness of the rye adds a great backbone and the lemon twist is essential if you want to keep the drink bright. I’m very pleased with this drink, and it even spawned an offspring, for a regular who always insists on rum-based cocktails.

JANS’ CONUNDRUM
2 ¼ oz Barbancourt 8 yr rum
½ oz Dry Amontillado Sherry
½ oz raspberry/blackberry shrub
3 dashes of Angostura bitters
lemon twist
stir all ingredients with ice
garnish with lemon twist

Of course none of this would be possible without a recipe for Shrub, so as promised, here is my version. Please keep in mind that this was my first attempt of an experiment that I thought for sure would fail, so the following are approximations of the amounts that I used, as I didn’t really measure and went more by gut and palate.

BOUDREAU’S BERRY SHRUB
1 pint raspberries
1 pint blackberries
1 bottle red wine vinegar
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
throw all but vinegar into a pot and simmer for about 10 minutes
add vinegar and boil for about 2 minutes
skim and strain resulting mixture and bottle
skim and strain next day as well

Picture and drink by:
Jamie Boudreau
www.vesselseattle.com

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~ by Jamie Boudreau on November 8, 2007.

23 Responses to “Berry Shrub”

  1. Jamie, what is the difference between a shrub and a gastrique? Is it the flavoring (fruit v. spice) or the length of time the sugar/water mixture is cooked? Thanks! Great post and photo as always!

  2. Funny! I guess Shrubs are in the air.

    The other day I was making a raspberry vinaigrette and ended up with a bit much raspberry vinegar for my salad dressing. I’d always been a bit dubious about shrubs; but, figured since I had it made I’d give it a try as a beverage. I was quite refreshing mixed with a bit of simple and lime juice topped up with soda.

    I’ve been meaning to write about this…

    It’s funny how we associate lemon and citrus with the summer. Most citrus is in season in the fall/winter.

    Before refrigeration and the year around availability of citrus, I believe it would probably have been much more common to have a shrub or preserved lemon drink than actual lemonade in the heat of the summer.

  3. I didn’t crack mine when Martin came in to town. I figure i can give it ’til thanksgiving.

    The recipe I used didn’t have added vinegar. I suppose that just comes with time.

  4. nice post jamie ( – :

    I;ve even seen some old recepies that use acetic acid which is the purest form of vinegar.

    Tait Farms makes a wonderfull range of pre bottled shrubs which are used at many of the historic places in the east coast. such as the Kings Tavern in williams berg and the City Tavern in Philly

    Tait farms uses all natural fruit vinegars and natural fruits to make their shrubs they can be mixed with fruit juces champagne and any base spirit you desire.
    you can order them on line at Tait Farms Foods.

  5. Nice post and usually fantastic picture!

    The most amazing thing of this topic is the simplicity of the cocktails! Very well done Jamie (however why didn’t you cooked the vinegar with the other ingredients?)!

    It is even more thinkable, if you are using artisan vinegars – than a shrub could become brilliant!

  6. Marshall:
    A shrub is kind of a berry gastrique, but the way it was originally intended was as a bottled product that you drank as is; not to be used as an ingredient in a drink as I have done. Unfortunately my talents in the bar far exceed my kitchen skills (and history) so i can’t give you too much info on gastriques.

  7. [...] do I feel late to the party. After a few excellent shrub posts by Gabriel, Jamie, and Rick, and Chip and Andy, there’s not a lot more to say, but I’ve got a few tips [...]

  8. [...] Yes, I’m late to this one, but with good reason: last year, when Rick and Gabriel (who otherwise typically detests complex ingredients — c’mon, you didn’t think I’d let that slip by, did you?) and everyone else was going on and on about their homemade shrubs, I could simply head downtown and step into Vessel, where Jamie was doing all the work for me, even making up drinks with all my favorite ingredients that featured his homemade shrub. [...]

  9. My dad gave me READER’S DIGEST, AUGUST 2007 to read. I grow rasberries for my family and usually freeze left overs so he though I mite like your artical. I took it one step further to find your recipe on line. i will give it a try. Thank You for providing it.

  10. this blog is awsome keep it up and thanks

  11. i tried ur recipe and it ws the best drink ever thanks i loved it keep on putting more

  12. [...] is a link to Jamie Boudreau’s own write up on this cocktail and a generally good introduction to the topic of [...]

  13. [...] I’ve seen various recipes call for a few ounces of berry shrub, one of my favorites being Jans’ Conundrum by the great Jamie Boudreau . In his blog, Mr. Boudreau discusses his version of a berry shrub (in [...]

  14. [...] latest hot drink addition. This means that, should you be keen to whip up your own batch of shrub, recipes [...]

  15. Good handbatched shrubs in flavors from raspberry to ginger to lemon are now available at http://www.sageandseafarms.com in Portland Oregon, if you don’t have the inclination to make your own!

  16. [...] vinegar  Raspberry Shrub found in the Bon Vivants Companion by Jerry Thomas. Bartenders have been hot and cold on the use of shrub for a few years now,  but we thought we would try our hand at it. [...]

  17. [...] found a few recipes for shrub on the interweb, including this one, this one and this one.  But they all involved cooking the mix and really, it seemed like it was [...]

  18. [...] Berry Shrub and cocktail recipes from Spirits and Cocktails [...]

  19. [...] found a few recipes for shrub on the interweb, including this one, this one and this one.  But they all involved cooking the mix and really, it seemed like it was [...]

  20. [...] recipes add some complexity to the booze + fruit + sugar mixture in the form of vinegar. Sounds kind of gross, but sources both historical and modern claim that the acid/sweet combination is tasty and [...]

  21. [...] Berry Shrub « SpiritsAndCocktails.comNov 8, 2007 … Berry Shrub. Between Rick, Eric and David there have been more than enough reasons for me to bring up the topic of Shrub. I first came across … [...]

  22. [...] Jamie Boudreau, spiritsandcocktails.com [...]

  23. about one bottle of red wine vinegar? Someone doesn’t want to give up his secrets! We are making fig shrub and currant preserves to get ready for winter cocktail time and thought I’d revisit this old recipe. As always, thanks for posting.

    HCO

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