Michael Dietsch’s Shrubs: An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times
Michael Dietsch’s Shrubs: An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times (Countryman Press, 2014) details the delicious, seasonally sensitive art of shrub-making. Not just a bush in your backyard, a shrub is a drink made from concentrated fruit syrup, vinegar and sugar. Shrubs aren’t necessarily always boozy, but they are always tart and refreshing.
Vinegar and fruit have been used throughout history to preserve freshness, sterilize water, prevent scurvy and bring some sharp sweetness to beverages. Shrubs fell out of style after Prohibition but luckily the Pennsylvania Dutch preserved the tradition. Like many antiquated arts, shrubs are experiencing a return to popularity.
Dietsch features more than 70 different shrub recipes—both alcoholic and non-—with simple, easy-to-follow instructions. For a wintry cocktail, try Benjamin Franklin’s shrub, a mixture of oranges, rum and sugar. The original recipe, taken from Franklin’s own notes, is included. Dietsch also offers some suggested flavor combinations in the appendix. No matter what you’re preparing, he urges you to consider the recipes as guidelines, and follow your intuition when it comes to preparing these tasty refreshers.