SHRUBS—DRINKABLE, fruit-infused vinegars— can be traced to 15th century England where they were first prescribed to combat scurvy. During the 17th and 18th centuries, shrubs were combined with rum, brandy, or sparkling wine and served as cordials. English settlers also brought shrubs to colonial America, often mixing them with spirits or still water. Consumption waned with the invention of refrigeration, with vinegar no longer a necessity for fruit preservation.
Everything old is new again, as the saying goes. Shrubs have enjoyed a recent resurgence as an endlessly versatile and zippy base for cocktails and alcohol-free drinks.
CRANBERRY APPLE SHRUB WITH GINGER
This shrub utilizes wintry, in-season ingredients readily available at grocery stores. To enjoy alcohol-free, pour two to three tablespoons into an ice-filled glass and top with chilled sparkling water or ginger beer, garnishing with whole fresh or frozen cranberries. For a delightful cocktail, replace alcohol-free bubbles with prosecco. Alternatively, follow alcohol-free instructions, then splash in a shot of spiced rum.
makes about 3 cups
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large-sized sweet apples, unpeeled
- 1 cup frozen cranberries, thawed
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar, Bragg Organic recommended
- Combine ginger and sugar in a large glass bowl.
- Grate apples on a box grater, avoiding then discarding seeds and core. Stir shredded apples and any juices into ginger/sugar mixture.
- Purée cranberries and vinegar in a blender, then pour into bowl. Stir to combine.
- Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a cool, shaded spot on countertop for 24 to 48 hours.
- Strain mixture through a fine-mesh strainer placed over another large bowl, pressing on solids to release juices. Discard solids, then funnel shrub into jars or bottles with tight fitting lids.
- Store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.