Shrub-a-dub-dub-dub

Here at PourTaste headquarters, we’ve been concocting some great recipes in response to the summer heat, with everyone wanting refreshing and bright cocktails. We all know that the cocktail is all about balance. To find the perfect ratio of booze, sugar, sour, bitter or anything that would offer earth tones is the art of the cocktail. But, like all magic, there are simple, almost slight of hand, tricks-of-the-trade that bring these things together wonderfully. Our new friends at DrinkMusicCity had asked us recently to shine some light on this subject to the imbibers of Nashville, so we opted for a little history lesson and homework assignment on the Shrub. Originating from the Arabic term “sharaba”, Shrub is a term which defines the pre mixture of fruit juice, sugar, alcohol and vinegar. Like most things in the cocktail world, the process of making shrubs goes back to the founding fathers, who, in order to enhance certain distilled spirits gone bad, or tainted by the salt of their Atlantic voyage, would create and store these mixtures. Though colonial shrubs were normally just fruit juice, sugar and alcohol (today’s cordial), vinegar, or soured wine, made its way in the mix over time, giving more acidity to the compound. This bright and lively addition to the colonists punch have come back in a huge way, taking the stage nationally, with bartenders exploring flavors like never before. Making shrubs, like anything else, can be a week long process if passionate enough, however, we have found some quick simmering and overnight refrigeration can take the most common of recipes and make them extraordinary. Featured as a Drink of the Week on our iOS app and also on the menu of Watanabe World Cuisine in East Nashville, our Oaxacan Sunrise is a wonderful example of raising the bar on an otherwise simple and overlooked recipe.

Inspired by the Tequila Sunrise (blah), we used–
2oz mezcal (tequilas more robust and wise grandfather)
1oz orange shrub
1/2oz creme de cassis (black currant liquor)
1/4oz simple syrup
egg white
3 drops allspice dram

Shake mezcal, shrub, simple syrup, egg white and allspice liquor dry (no ice), vigorously for 20 seconds. Add ice, shake and strain. Pour creme de cassis into drink as it will settle at the bottom, creating sunrise effect.

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Wether it be a cocktail as entailed as this or something as simple as a Gin and Tonic, shrubs, or as chefs would say “gastriques”, add brightness and depth to any cocktail. Though the origin of shrubs was based off citrus flavors, you’ll start to have a lot of fun when you bring acidity to non acidic foods. Berries, spices, pineapple, even vegetables. There are many options in the shrub world and all should be explored. To unleash the home mixologist in you, follow this simple base recipe for a traditional orange flavored shrub. Once you’ve mastered this, start thinking outside the box by adding depth through other flavors. Orange-Nutmeg? Grapefruit-Cinnamon? Pineapple-Pink Peppercorn? Sky’s the limit!

Orange Shrub
Into a medium size sauce pan, zest then juice 10 oranges
Add 2 cups sugar, 3 cups vinegar (champagne vinegar is lovely, rice vinegar works well too) and 4-5 ounces Demerara Rum (this will act as a preserving agent and add depth of flavor).
Simmer on low for about 20 mins.
Let mixture, still containing pieces of zested orange peel, refrigerate overnight. Strain out pieces of peel when ready to serve.

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