Derived from the Arabic word sharab, meaning “to drink,” the early version of the English shrub was used for medicinal cordials. It however, gained popularity in the late 1600’s with smugglers trying to avoid import taxes, sinking barrels of spirits off shore to be retrieved later. The addition of the shrub aided in masking the alcohol that was affected by sea water. The shrub was a common ingredient in punches or as a mix with brandy or rum. Typically served during the Holidays, but was also wildly available in most public houses up until the late 1800’s when it fell out of fashion.
The American version of the shrub was where vinegar was used as an alternative to citrus juices in preserving berries or other off season fruits. Later the vinegar was valued itself and strained of the fruit, a sweetener was added, then reduced to make a syrup. This sweet/sour syrup was then either added to soda water, or water.
Shrubs have slowly gained popularity again in the recent years in many American bars. Due to the unique acidity and infusions of taste that they hold, they are suited well for an apertif or used as an alternative to bitters in cocktails.
We are excited to have a number of Non-Alcoholic shrubs on our menu here at Spinnakers, that are house made and infused with local fruits & spices. On the menu now we have a Ginger shrub, Raspberry Shrub, Blackberry Shrub & Rhubarb Shrub.