Shrubs: An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times Hardcover – 9 Dec 2014
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"Imagine a fizzy, soda-like drink that is drier and so much more sophisticated than soda, what with the sugar and botanical ingredients. Shrubs! Amazing! Wonderful!" Amy Stewart, the Drunken Botanist "
"Shrubs: The Reason You Should Be Drinking Vinegar This Summer." The Boston Globe "
From berry-bright shrubs that spark nonalcoholic refreshers to life, to spicy and savory mixtures destined for the cocktail shaker, Michael Dietsch's recipes give us plenty of reasons to dig into this long-overlooked realm of drinks. --Paul Clarke, Executive Editor"
Shot through with history and formulas for making your own seasonal shrubs, Michael Dietsch's excellent debut serves as a year-round resource for cocktail geeks and DIY enthusiasts looking to take their farmers' market finds to the next level. Transform sweet and savory ingredients into a rainbow of inventive flavor combinations that are perfect for sipping on their own., as the base of enlightened homemade soda, or as a key component in a refreshing cocktail. --Brad Thomas Parsons, Author of Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All"
Michael Dietsch has poked a pinhole in the past, and from this has projected the whole curious enterprise of drinkable vinegars in an enchanting light. Who would have thought spoiled wine or cider could taste so good?--Wayne Curtis, Author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails
Imagine a fizzy, soda-like drink that is drier and so much more sophisticated than soda, what with the sugar and botanical ingredients. Shrubs! Amazing! Wonderful!--Amy Stewart, the Drunken Botanist
Shrubs: The Reason You Should Be Drinking Vinegar This Summer.
About the Author
Michael Dietsch is a writer, editor, and accidental bartender in Brooklyn. He is a contributor at SeriousEats.com and writes about spirits and cocktails at the website A Dash of Bitters. When he's not mixing drinks, he's smoking huge chunks of meat, grilling vegetables, bicycling, or enjoying a fine cigar. The author of Shrubs, he lives in Reston, Virginia, with his family.
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The first section of the book is a nicely well-rounded (but not dry or stuffy) history of the two kinds of beverages that have at various times and in various places been known as shrubs; one has sugar, fruit, and alcohol (mostly rum, back in the day) and one was a sugary, tart, herb-infused beverage that honestly sounds like the 12th century version of modern sodas, except way better (seriously, would you rather drink Arctic Blast Extreme, or Peach Honey Mint?). It's fascinating to read about the way these drinks moved across Europe, then to Colonial Amercia, where shrubs were common. There are recipes from at least a couple of guys who now appear on money, for example. (In both original form, and updated, because Dietsch cares about the historical accuracy but also the flavor.)
Shrubs never went away completely, but they sure did become obscure, and that's interesting too. Dr. Pepper claims to have 23 flavors, and that's typical for something invented in early 20th-century America. What can be really great is a simple-sounding but amazingly effective combination of sweet, acidic/ tart, and fruit. It helps that shrubs are very, VERY easy to make at home. For those few ingredients you can get a lot of flavors.
A few months ago I made a batch of a really simple strawberry shrub, and on day one it tastes like sugar, strawberries, and vinegar -- which is surprisingly good. Lemonade is acidic, after all, and that's why we like it. A couple of weeks later, after some chemistry has happened and the flavors have mellowed, it's ridiculous how bright and deep the strawberry flavor is. The second half of the book is recipes, and I look forward to trying out most of them.
Special shout-out to the lovely photos, It's a fun and great-looking book.
Shrubs are a terrific thirst quencher, going back to the old horse cavalry trick of pouring a couple caps of vinegar in the water in your canteen to cut the dust. I pour a few tablespoons of shrub (the cranberry's delicious) into a tall glass of club soda and ice, and I don't need anything else. It's easier and more rewarding than the homebrewing I used to do. Great book, highly recommended.