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The Shrubs of 1776

The beverage called a 'shrub' was very popular in Colonial times. Plain water was generally not safe to drink, so most people drank fruit juice or alcohol. Shrubs were a delicious mix of the two. The standard recipe for a shrub was 1 part mashed fruit, 1 part sugar, and 1 part vinegar. Popular fruits included berries, peaches, citrus. The fruit was mashed and mixed with the sugar and left to sit for a day at room temperature in a sealed container. The result was strained through cheesecloth or a sieve and the fruit pulp and seeds were discarded. The vinegar was added to make a syrup. More sugar or vinegar were added to taste.

To serve, 2 tbls. of the fruit/sugar/vinegar syrup were put in a glass and filled with water. Berries or herbs were often added as a garnish. Colonials would have also added a jigger of rum or brandy.

Shrubs are back in popularity again. People make shrub syrups from scratch using fruit, but today’s creative folks have branched out to include melons, figs, tomatillo, fennel, and lots of other fruits and vegetables. When combined with various herbs or spices, the result is a multitude of intriguing tastes. Old Sourpuss vinegars are perfect for making shrubs from scratch.

Shrubs are the perfect mocktail, but can also be combined with vodka, tequila, bourbon, gin, champagne, Prosecco, vinho verde, or white wine. There are dozens of recipes to be found online. Also try this book for terrific ideas


An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times

By Michael Dietsch

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