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Let’s Give Them “Shrub”thing to Talk About

Thursday, March 3 2016 2:34 PM

To anyone who has been reading over the last few weeks, first, I thank you and I hope you are finding enjoyment in the history of one of the world’s favorite pastimes. Please know that I enjoy the traditional way of making cocktails and so, for this week’s feature we will be exploring the history and modern usage of, perhaps the world’s oldest “mixers”, shrubs.

A shrub is a fruit preserve originally made from fresh seasonal fruit and fresh citrus or vinegar to preserve and infuse. The first historical documentation of this was in the 15th century with the use of medicinal cordials and tinctures. The process tapered off slowly over the next few hundred years, however was still used for making punches and some traditional winter holiday beverages.

As we began to colonize America the trend reemerged with the rise of rye-based spirits, only this time there were a few differences. Fresh citrus juice was phased out in preference of vinegar as the shrub’s shelf life was much longer. This time it wasn’t used for medicine, but mostly for making punches and beverages of the alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties, especially during the Christmas Holidays. However, with lack of refrigeration, this trend was short-lived because shelf-life was only about a week after opening. After then, the bitterness of the vinegar would become over-powering.

Shrubs have returned to bars in both the United States as well as the United Kingdom. At Pierpont’s, we are happy to be providing a little piece of history in our “Kansas City Connection” cocktail. This concoction features orange shrubs from Steadfast Shrubs, a local company where everything is made traditionally by the owner, Aaron Branstetter. As the seasons and fresh local fruit change, so will our collection of shrubs and classically inspired cocktails.

Pierpont's Cocktails

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