I am a cocktails guy who believes that fresh fruit makes for the absolute best flavored syrups for my drinks. And I also buy much of my produce at the local farmers market, so I can shake hands with the person who grew it. But there’s one major drawback when you’re buying fruit straight from the farmer, and that’s time.
Here in Georgia, peach season only lasts for about two months, and strawberries only show up for a few weeks in the early spring. Even the best fruit syrup will only last a week or two in the fridge before it starts to go bad; a major problem for those of us who crave strawberry daiquiris well into late August. Enter the shrub, or, as it was also once called, the drinking vinegar.
Shrubs and drinking vinegars have a long history. They’ve been around as about as long as America’s been around: Once used as a medicinal tonic, they’re coming back with a vengeance. (Think of the shrub as kombucha’s fruitier, more flamboyant cousin.) As hipsters can tell you, shrubs are now big business, with fancy, expensive brands popping up all over.