Summer Cocktail Blackberry Shrub

by R.B. Quinn and Min Merrell
Cocktail Shrub

Run into a summer cocktail blackberry shrub yet? A shrub is an an-old fashioned syrup made by macerating fresh fruit in sugar and vinegar. It’s an intensely fruity, tart and sweet mixture that dates back to colonial times. Like salting and smoking meat in the pre-refrigeration days, preserving fruit in sugar and vinegar was neither trendy nor cool, just a problem-solving necessity, providing a common refreshment mixed with lemonade or seltzer water.

Well, shrubs are back enlivening the signature menus of every cocktail temple in town. You’ll see them splashed into classic gin and tonics and blended with the latest small batch distillation. They may seem fancy, but you can easily do this at home.  

And now’s the time to get a shrub macerating in your refrigerator with all summer fresh fruits available like peaches and berries. Feel free to add a little zing with fresh ginger, Serrano pepper, or even fresh basil. Our favorite place to start is a simple one made with fresh blackberries. Get a pint and double the recipe. You might find it odd that the fruit is flavored with vinegar, but it actually offers a clean tart taste unclouded by everyday lemon, lime or grapefruit. Whatever fruits you choose, this stable syrup will add tang and great color to your stable of summer cocktails.

Here’s hoping our cheater shrub might be the incentive for you to give this a try. It’s fun and easy with plenty of room to experiment and makes for interesting drinks and conversation at cocktail hour.  Next patio cocktail hour wow your friends with blackberry shrub gin and tonics.  Make G & T’s your favorite way, now drizzle about 2 tablespoons of the shrub over the top.


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