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REBIRTH OF SHRUBS

Vinegar-based mixtures are re-emerging in cocktails, mocktails, and recipes galore.

WRITTEN BY AIMEE EIGUREN
PHOTOS BY MICHAEL OKIMOTO

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Dating all the way back to 15th century England, and with a storied past that includes smugglers and tax evasion, the shrub, a sweet-tart infusion of drinking vinegar and fruit, is reappearing in cocktails and mocktails, and making a roaring comeback at hip restaurants and bars throughout the U.S. and London.

For one, they can be found at Death & Taxes, an upscale craft cocktail bar in Reno’s Midtown, finding their place within the Spirits Bible, the bar’s robust and distinctive cocktail menu.

A characteristic American recipe for shrubs uses vinegar poured over seasonal berries (though the more exotic the fruit, the better). The concoction then is left to infuse overnight or up to several days or weeks afterward. The fruit is strained out and the remaining liquid is mixed with a sweetener such as sugar or honey, and then reduced to make a sweet-acidic syrup, which can be poured over ice with your choice of spirits or club soda.

“Shrubs have been popular for some time on the cocktail scene and are interesting to create because they add a true depth and complexity of flavors by using both sugar and acid,” says Ivan Fontana, co-owner of Death & Taxes. “The flavor(s) help complement and balance each other, and there’s a culinary aspect to shrubs because they can be used for much more than just cocktails.”

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<pclass="MsoNormal">The other fun news about making shrubs is that anyone can make them at home during any season of the year, and with any type of fresh, seasonal fruit.

“Shrubs are so versatile,” Fontana says. “Don’t be afraid to get creative in your kitchen and use them for spritzers, cocktails, vinaigrettes, and even desserts.”

Try one of Fontana’s newly created shrub recipes this winter. And pour it at your next soirée. 

Aimee Eiguren is a gluten-free food writer and founder of A.R.E. Public Relations, a gluten-free PR and marketing firm (Arepublicrelations.com). She’s also a celiac disease advocate and advisory board member of The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. A former Reno resident, Eiguren now resides in the Bay Area.

White Fig Shrub

(courtesy of Ivan Fontana, co-owner of Death & Taxes in Reno. Makes 16 ounces)

1 pint white figs, puréed

1 cup champagne vinegar

1 cup turbinado sugar

1 teaspoon white pepper

Combine puréed figs, champagne vinegar, and white pepper in container. Steep on countertop for two days.

Strain off fig solids. Pour liquid in glass jar, add sugar, and shake well. Allow shrub to sit for at least a week before using. Pour over ice and add club soda or your choice of spirits.

Apricot Cinnamon Shrub

(courtesy of Ivan Fontana, co-owner of Death & Taxes in Reno. Makes 16 ounces)

1 pound apricots, pitted and sliced

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup pear cider vinegar

Place apricots and sugar in bowl. Mash apricots and stir to combine with sugar.

Cover bowl and refrigerate. Allow fruit to macerate for a day, then strain out solids. Combine strained syrup with vinegar and whisk to dissolve sugar. Pour mixture into jar and refrigerate for one week before use. Pour over ice and add club soda or your choice of spirits.

Resources

Death & Taxes Provisions and Spirits
26 Cheney St., Reno
775-324-2630, http://www.deathandtaxesreno.com
Open 5 p.m. – midnight Mon. – Wed., 3 p.m. – midnight Thurs., 3 p.m. – 1 a.m. Fri. – Sat., and 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Sun.

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