Sauce Magazine – 5 shrubs to try in cocktails this summer
5 shrubs to try in cocktails this summer
For cocktail and mocktail enthusiasts alike, shrubs — the non-alcoholic, tart-sweet syrup made by heating fruits, herbs, and spices in vinegar — are a great way to brighten up your drink of choice. On-site bartenders and mixologists produce their own shrubs, use them in thirst-quenching summertime drinks and sell them for home use in area shops. Try them in cocktails at these restaurant bars and then grab some to add to your bar cart.
What began as an experiment at home during quarantine grew into bartender Craig Cunningham’s deep appreciation for shrubs, which he now produces on a large scale for use at the bar. “As with all things alcohol-related, shrub-making takes a little time and a little experimentation before you figure out what tastes good,” he noted. His experiments have ranged from the more traditional blood orange cardamom bush currently found in the Sanguine cocktail to one with roasted pumpkin, cinnamon and cardamom. The Strawberry Manilow contains a balsamic mint shrub that is also flavored with strawberries, raspberries, cedar leaves, Indian bay leaves and mace. Cunningham adds gin, cocchi americano, and lemon juice to create a complex drink that he says remains one of polite society’s top sellers to this day.
1923 Park Avenue, St Louis, 314.325.2553, politesocietystl.com
Blood & Sand
At Blood & Sand, bar manager Jake Smith combines apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar and mirin to create shrubs with a “well-rounded balance of sweet and sour,” he said. Try Naughty Girls Need Love Too – Samantha Fox, which uses blood orange bush in combination with Pamplemousse Rosé, Hendrick’s gin and lime, or Day Glow Fire – Future Islands, made with Milagro Silver Tequila infused with roasted Aloha peppers and fat-washed avocado , Fire Roasted Corn Syrup, Orange and a Cilantro Lime Bush.
1500 St Charles St, St Louis, 314.241.7263, bloodandsandstl.com
Heirloom Bottling Co.
Local shrub producer Heirloom Bottling Co. started as an idea in the kitchen of founder and CEO Brad Zulick. “I was looking for a quick and easy way to make multiple cocktails for a group of friends, so I made some fruity shrubs and added spirits. People loved them,” he said of his shrubs, whose flavor profile he sees somewhere between syrup and drinking vinegar. Heirloom Bottling now offers five unique shrub flavors made with organic apple cider vinegar, fresh fruit, sugar, herbs and spices; Flavors include Strawberry Rosemary (no added sugar), Blueberry Sage, and Blackberry Lemon Mint.
Ian VanDam, Civil Alchemy’s co-founder and chief operating officer, said customers come to his shop looking for shrubs for a variety of uses. “They add shrubs or just soda water to their favorite liquor for a non-alcoholic summertime splash. Shrubs have been hugely important to the non-alcoholic cocktail scene,” he added. “We even see people alternating drinking weekends with low- or no-alcohol weekends just to shake it up a bit.” Along with the Heirloom Bottling Co. shrubs that stock it, the Webster Groves shop is also featured Sideyard shrubs from the Bay Area, with imaginative flavors like yuzu, strawberry, passion fruit and kumquat.
8154 Big Bend Boulevard, Webster Groves, 314.801.7577, civilchemistry.com
In addition to Heirloom Bottling Co.’s sampler set of shrubs and individual 8-ounce bottles of Blackberry-Lemon-Mint and Blueberry-Sage flavors, Intoxicology also stocks Cool Hand Co.‘s Blackberry Cocoa Nib Orange Zest, Strawberry Hibiscus Jalapeño and Pineapple Turmeric Ginger Bushes. Co-owner Melissa Pfeiffer said the store often stocks a copy of Michael Dietsch’s book, Shrubs: A Vintage Drink for the Modern Age, for those particularly interested in DIY shrub creations and inventive recipes.
4321 Manchester Avenue, St Louis, 314.833.3088, intoxicologystl.com