A couple of weeks ago we announced the arrival of the Shrub & Co. products from Atlanta - vinegar, fruit, and sugar concoctions that mix well into soda or cocktails. I thought these sweeteners had serious potential to become cocktail mainstays, so I set out to toy around with some of the drink recipes on their website.
However, I didn't find any I really liked.
Some of the recipes on the Shrub & Co. website suffer from overcomplexity – the word I use for cocktail ideas that simply try too hard to get your attention, like the modern salad or appetizer plate. There's only so far you can go with these fixtures and bold attempts to stand out, simply for the sake of it, often fall flat.
This was one recommendation they had:
2 oz New Holland Beer Barrel Bourbon
3/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1/4 oz Shrub & Co Tart Apple
2 dashes Bar Keep Apple Bitters
2 dashes Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Bitters
Stir, strain, express lemon swath & discard around lip of Collins glass. Serve with 1 oz shot of New Holland Dragon’s milk.
Maybe it's just me, but I don't think this is something that most of my customers have the dedication for.
In my opinion, the Shrub & Co. shrubs work best with soda water – what I consider the best cocktail ingredient around. They don't even need alcohol, just an ounce of the shrub with ice and a healthy dose of Pellegrino. Adding alcohol is just the kicker.
Bourbon, ginger shrub, soda. Rum, ginger shrub, soda. Vodka, ginger shrub, soda. Gin, ginger shrub, soda. Pretty easy. Very delicious.
Fill rocks glass with ice
Add 2 oz. of booze
1 oz. of shrub
top with soda
Then I made the fatal mistake of using tequila and the grapefruit shrub with this same formula. Five drinks later I was asleep. Now I'm in a bit of a haze while typing this.
The Shrub & Co. shrubs are amazing. They're like the ketchup of the bar – you can add them to anything and you can't mess it up. However, after making a number of the sodaless recipes from the website, I'm convinced that bubbles bring out their true potential.
Just ask my head. And my stomach. And my willpower.