What is a SHRUB in a Cocktail?

August 14, 2012

I'm recently back from Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans.  One of the products that sparked my liquid driven inspiration is called a Shrub. 

What is a Shrub you might ask?  Well, a Shrub is a combination of sweet and savory flavors.  Vinegars and fruits, bitter aromatics and tart essences are what Shrubs are to a cocktail. 

I see a Shrub and I think savory and complicated flavors.

Shrubs seem to be recreated aroma driven concentrated tastes.  Sitting in front of me right now is a very special Apple Shrub from Shrub and Co.  In the "swag" room at Tales, each of the media guests were offered some small bottles of the Shrubs for experimentation.

I created a liquid Mulligatawny  out of my Apple Shrub.

The Mulligatawny Cocktail is a curious creature indeed.   It is comprised of Orleans Apple Aperitif woven in a melange with the other-worldly Zaya 12 year old Rum.  A few tablespoons of the Apple Shrub is augmented by the sharp and potent flavors of Curry- as exemplified by Bill York's Curry Bitters from Bitter End in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

I see this cocktail as a potent reminder of the British Empire running a rail road train at high speed into an unchartered pass.  In the winter.  With no one coming in either direction for about a week.  This drink is perfect for the coming apple season and fall soon ahead.

The Shrub and Co. Apple Shrub can be taken by the teaspoon full over ice cream or spooned over shortbread and dashed with a nice dark Rum. 

I prefer it in a drink. 

There are dozens of different Shrubs on the market.  Some are created from berries, others citrus and still others tree fruits.  Shrubs are to cocktails as a time-machine is to space travel.  A means to the end.  Channeling our forefathers through their liquid driven memories.

My thoughts on Shrubs are simple.  Use them when you require a bitter/sour element to your drinks. 

They add a savory sweet/sour thickness to the finished product.

Please let me know your thoughts.  

For 2-3 very strong cocktails:


I'll Be an Apple Perplexed Cocktail aka: The Mulligatawny Cocktail


4 shots Zaya 12 Year Old Gran Reserva Rum from Trinadad

1 shot Orleans Apple Aperitif

2 Shots Shrub and Co. Apple Shrub

Bitter End Curry Bitters (6 drops)

Coconut water ice- freeze in an ice cube tray 50/50 combination of coconut water to Mavea "Inspired" Water overnight


Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled 1/4 with ice

Shake well until frosty

Strain over Coconut water infused ice cubes made with the Mavea "Inspired Water" Pitcher  50% coconut water/50% Mavea filtered water

Scrape some fresh nutmeg over the top (essential!)

Garnish with a sprig of fresh spearmint