Have you ever tried drinking a shrub? Wondering how that would work, what with all the leaves and pointy bits? Not to worry – I was mystified, too, when I first saw shrubs on a cocktail menu. Fortunately, I’m not suggesting you drink greenery! No, this kind of shrub is much tastier and goes down a whole lot more smoothly. Shrubs are a sweet-tart mixer made by letting fresh fruit sit in vinegar, then adding sugar to the infused vinegar and boiling it all down to a syrup that brings sweetness, acidity and a punch of flavor to your drinks. I love that since shrubs are so full of flavor, they don’t require extra juices, herbs or liqueurs to make them immensely satisfying and drinkable. This shrub, made with fresh blackberries and minty licorice delight tea, is sweet, tangy and also has some tasty herbal notes. I didn’t want to obscure any of those flavors, so I mixed the shrub with sparkling water, and wow. The flavors all came through, and the sweetened vinegar makes them more intense than they would be without that acidic element.
The choice of tea made all the difference here. This was my first time making a shrub with tea, and while I knew I wanted to use an herbal one, I didn’t think a mild tea like chamomile or lavender would stand up to vinegar. Enter minty licorice delight! This is a new tea from Stash, and now that I’ve tried licorice and mint together, I don’t know how I got along with out them for so long. I’ll admit I’m not usually a fan of licorice. But in combination with the mint, it’s light and refreshing, and the perfect herbal complement to the blackberry and vinegar. While the blackberry is what hits your tastebuds first, it’s the minty licorice that lingers and makes you want to take another sip. Next time I’m going to try my shrub as a cocktail mixer – I think it’d pair well with an herbal liqueur like amaro or an elderflower cordial. The possibilities are endless, as is my appetite for shrubs! Have you ever tried making or drinking shrubs? I’d love to hear your favorites!
- 1 1/2 cup blackberries
- 1 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 4-6 bags Stash minty licorice delight tea
- 1 - 1 1/2 cups sugar
- sparkling water
- herbal liqueur, optional
- Sterilize a canning jar and lid by washing it in warm soapy water, then submerging in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove with tongs and set aside.
- Wash the blackberries and pat dry. Add them to the sterilized jar, and use a clean muddler to crush the berries until they are very juicy.
- Add the tea bags and vinegar, secure the lid tightly and store in a cool, dry spot for at least 24 hours and up to a week.
- Strain the infused vinegar through a fine mesh strainer or damp cheesecloth. Discard tea bags and fruit.
- Bring the vinegar and 1 cup of sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce until the vinegar is slightly thick and syrupy.
- Remove from heat, cool, and taste. If more sweetness is desired, return to low heat and add sugar as desired.
- Sterilize the jar again, and store the shrub in the refrigerator. It should keep at least a few months, but discard immediately if it becomes cloudy, and begins to smell or taste different.
- Add ice cubes and 2 Tbsp shrub to a glass. Add sparkling water and stir well. Add more shrub as desired.