This summer, the heat kicked my butt.
It may have been the string of 90-plus degree weather we had or it could have been the little furnace growing in my belly. My refusal to turn on the air conditioning might have had something to do with it. I can’t tell you how pathetic (stubborn!) I must have looked the countless times Matthew came home from work to find the dog and me sprawled on the cool tile floor after a walk, both of us panting.
Luckily, Matthew knows how to NOT listen to me at the appropriate times and turn on the air conditioner. He also knows how to make me a fabulous cool-down drink when I whine about being tired of drinking plain water. This husband of mine is a saint.
So the drink starts like this: add equal parts of fruit, sugar and good vinegar to a sauce pot and cook it until the fruit breaks down and the whole thing comes together to form a syrup-like mixture. Strain it through a fine mesh sieve and let it cool, then mix it with some bubbly water. I especially like using the tiny new Perrier cans so the giant bottles don’t get flat if you only want one drink.
This process of combining fruit, acid and sugar is called a shrub – an old-time method of preserving fruit before the days of refrigeration. Most cocktail geeks can tell you all about them. Shrubs are both tart and sweet, so they’re a perfectly versatile base for lots of drinks.
The most important part is to use really nice vinegar, otherwise your drink will taste like vinegar. Who wants that? The fruit and sugars you use can be quite interchangeable, so get creative. Think peaches, berries, rhubarb, apricots and plums. The sugar and vinegar preserve the fruit for a long time, so you’re not stuck sipping the same drink for a couple of days.
Even if you’re not a sweaty pregnant person and don’t get sick of every single food/drink after looking at it for longer than 30 seconds like me, I think you will appreciate having this drink on hand.
Makes enough for 6-8 drinks
The basic recipe is equal parts fruit, vinegar and sugar. We used:
2 cup pitted cherries* (old, bruised fruits are perfect for this)
1 cup agave
1 cup high-quality cider vinegar
Add all ingredients to a small sauce pot over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, let this cook down until it becomes syrupy. Strain it through a fine mesh sieve to remove any solids and let the mixture cool. Store in the refrigerator.
For this drink, I added a few tablespoons of the cherry shrub to one can of sparkling Perrier. Enjoy!
*We used two cups of cherries instead of one because when they’re measured out, there’s a lot of open space in between the cherries. We erred on the side of having more fruit versus less fruit. If you were using a squishy fruit like peaches, you could stick to the 1-to-1-to-1 ratio.