I first tried ‘drinking vinegar’ at PokPok restaurant in Portland, and instantly fell in love with the surprisingly delicious combination of fruit, sugar, and vinegar. Mixed with sparkling water and ice, the resulting drink was uniquely thirst-quenching, and with an ounce or two of vodka or gin, amazingly tasty! Of course, the next step was to try a splash of Som* drinking vinegar in iced green tea.
It turns out that drinking vinegars are popular throughout Southeast Asia, where they are used to create soft drinks and cocktails that celebrate the fruits, spices, and unique flavors of each individual area. About a year or so ago, ‘shrubs’ started showing up on local café menus and at the farmer’s market. Did you know that shrubs were a popular drink in the Colonial era in America? It turns out that British, American, Persian, and medieval European cultures all enjoyed a version of sweetened and spiced vinegar drinks, usually flavored with fruits.**
There are many people who believe that drinking a shot of apple cider vinegar each day has health benefits. I don’t know if the health claims associated with drinking cider vinegar are true or not, but either way, it’s easy to add vinegar to your diet with shrubs!
How to make shrubs for iced green tea
These vinegar syrups are very concentrated – drinking them straight might bring tears to your eyes! Start with 1-2 oz. of syrup for 8 oz. of iced tea for a refreshing and healthy shrub. They make wonderful cocktails and sparkling drinks as well – so much healthier than sodas, and the tangy vinegar flavor really hits the spot on a hot summer day. I made Ginger-Lime because it pairs beautifully with iced green tea, and Strawberry because we have a house full of fresh, ripe strawberries! I’ll freeze a few bags of sliced berries to make shrub in the middle of winter, as well. There’s nothing quite like having a little taste of summer in December…
Fresh Strawberry Shrub for Iced Green Tea
- 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
- 1 cup sugar
- Juice of ½ lime or ¼ lemon
- 1 cup vinegar, such as apple cider vinegar, sherry vinegar, or champagne vinegar
Mix first 3 ingredients and allow to macerate for ½ hour, then heat in a saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Simmer for a few minutes, then cool completely and refrigerate overnight. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve or cheesecloth, then add 1 cup vinegar. (Use unpasteurized apple cider vinegar if you drink vinegar for health reasons, or experiment with other types for subtle flavor variations. Sherry vinegar would be particularly nice with strawberries, or champagne vinegar for a purer, cleaner flavor.)
Ginger-Lime Shrub for Iced Green Tea
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 10 – 15 ‘coins’ sliced from a scrubbed fresh ginger root
- 1 lime, juiced, and the juiced rinds added to the pot
- 1 cup vinegar, such as coconut vinegar, rice vinegar, or white wine vinegar
Mix first 4 ingredients and allow to macerate for ½ hour, then heat in a saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Simmer for a few minutes, then cool completely and refrigerate overnight. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve or cheesecloth, then add 1 cup vinegar. For Asian-flavored drinks, try coconut vinegar or rice vinegar, or simply use white wine vinegar.
Shrubs keep for several months in the refrigerator in a glass jar or container. Enjoy!
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*Pok Pok Som
**Wikipedia “Shrub (drink)”