It’s Spring! Time For Some Shrubbery!


Bring to me… a shrubbery!

Wait. What?

Ni!

Excuse me?

Ni!

Stop that!

Ni!

Alright, I’ll bite. Who the Hell are you supposed to be now?

We are the Knights Who Say… ‘Ni’!

Please. Get out of here.

No.
The Knights Who Say… ‘Ni’ demand a sacrifice!

Get back in the drawer, Guy….

Ni! Ni! Ni!

Oh for God’s sake.
Alright, Knight Who Says ‘Ni!’, what do you want?

We shall say ‘Ni!’ to you again, if you do not bring us…
a shrubbery!

A what?!?

Ni!

This is a cocktail blog, not a friggin’ nursery. Why are you asking me for a damn bush?

Ni!
Not a bush, I, er, WE want the drink. It is Spring and we are hot.

Don’t blame me Doug.
I just mentioned I was thirsty, and all this crap happens.

He does go to great lengths to make sure you are never thirsty for long…

Ni!

You don’t want a shrubbery, you idiot. You want some shrub.

Ni… er, what?

First off, pure Shrub is a 19th Century non-alcoholic mixer. It is a fruity syrup with a vinegar base. Baker notes that Shrub as mocktail made a comeback of sorts among the law-abiding set during Prohibition… at least when the Man was over for supper. Shrub is dead easy to make without waylaying innocent travelers in the dark woods and demanding sacrifices.

Ni!

I just whipped up a batch of my own, based on blackberries, and it is not only delicious, but a great vehicle for cocktail creativity.
I stole my Blackberry Shrub recipe from Paul Clarke (the Prince of Puget), specifically, his post for MxMo XXX, entitled And everything smelled of vinegar…..

BLACKBERRY SHRUB

  • 1 pint blackberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar (champagne preferred)

Begin as with a simple syrup by bringing sugar and water to a boil. Add berries and reduce to a simmer for ten minutes. Muddle the berries gently from time to time. Return heat to high, add vinegar, and boil for two minutes. Remove from heat and double strain.

A couple of notes: Paul is not kidding, the entire Tri-State Area will smell of vinegar after you make this. Add the berries slowly so as not to splash syrup on the sides of the pot, which would burn. Finally, when you pour out the syrup, it may spit. Wear aprons, and keep the area clear. Blackberry juice stains.
Once it cools, you can do a thousand things with it.

BLACKBERRY SPARKLER

  • 1 1/2 oz. Blackberry Shrub
  • 4 oz. Sprite (or soda if you want tart)

Combine over ice.

This is a delicious soft drink for kids or hot, grubby gardeners.
Paul combines it with apple brandy and ginger ale for a nice Buck of sorts.
Rick goes with rum and ginger beer instead.
The Nerd goes the same way, and points us to a commercial source of Shrub, if that’s the way your lazy ass rolls.
Stevi goes with gin to show that you can really use whatever spirit you like with this stuff and it’ll work with the right tinkering.
You don’t have to stick with this simple Buck-type recipe with your Shrub either. Cocktail Klatsch relates three much more sophisticated recipes, by Boudreau, Morgenthaler, and themselves, which use a variety of shrubs. I’ll steal Jamie’s, only because it uses a blackberry base.

JAN’S CONUNDRUM by Jamie Boudreau

  • 2 1/4 oz. rhum barbancourt
  • 1/2 oz. dry amontillado sherry
  • 1/2 oz. raspberry/blackberry shrub
  • 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Stir all ingredients with ice and garnish with lemon twist.

For my part, I offered this little concoction for last Thursday’s TDN: Bitters, named with the expectation that no one else would have any Shrub on hand to make it.

THE USUAL TDN BITTERNESS

  • 2 oz. Blackberry Shrub
  • 3 oz. Shochu
  • 1/2 oz. Fee’s Peach Bitters

Combine in a double Old-Fashioned glass over the rocks with a splash of soda. Garnish with a good mint sprig you’ve slapped around a little bit.

In the event you are one of my under-rock-dwelling readers who won’t know what Guy was going on about above, I’ve tucked some classic film-making under the fold.

About the author

Doug

I am 48 years old, married with two young daughters. My interests are tennis, reading, computers, politics, and of course cocktails. I run a murder mystery party business that caters to both corporate and private events, Killing Time, murder consultants.

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