Everyone has their spring rituals—mine is getting my hands on some rhubarb. I start circling my favorite greenmarket stands in mid-April, waiting less-than-patiently for the humble pink stalks to show up. A homemade shrub syrup is the ideal way to feature rhubarb in cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks.
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Though shrubs are super-trendy now, they date back to colonial America; before there was refrigeration, vinegar was a handy tool for preserving fruit. It's pretty rare that we'd eagerly recommend any bottled cocktail mixer, but we recently sampled a line of shrub syrups from Shrub & Co and we're really big fans.
Last year, I described the shrub syrup, and presented a recipe for making shrubs at home. At the time, I was working with simple shrub syrups, consisting of fruit, sugar, and vinegar. These are always delicious, but they can be a little one-note. Today, I'm going to complicate things a little, by introducing accent ingredients that complement the fruit base and provide a deeper, more complex flavor to the shrub.
Lately it seems like I keep hearing about shrubs. I'm not talking about the bushes that line your front yard—this is way better. The shrub that I'm referencing is a vinegary syrup used as a way preserve fruit made with three ingredients: fruit, sugar, and vinegar.