Not to be confused with the small bush, shrub comes from the word Sharab in Arabic, and translates to “to drink”… which is exactly what you do with it.
A shrub is a type of non-alcoholic syrup used to make drinks, most commonly cocktails. Any mixologist worth their salt will have a stack of shrubs and vinegars (see our blog on how to use vinegars, or check out our range here) to choose from in their cabinet. Shrubs have become more popular in the UK over the last few years as people have been looking for complexity in flavour both for alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
So, what exactly is a shrub made from? It’s a combination of extremely concentrated fruits, sugars, vinegars and aromatics.
Find our delicious shrubs here: https://www.scottishbeecompany.co.uk/collections/shrub-drinks/shrub-drinks
What does it taste like?
It has a sweet taste (and is the flavour of the fruit inside), yet a tart and acidic undertone which comes through the vinegar. As it is an acidic mixer it works really nicely as a part of a mixed drink with tonic water or alcohol. Be warned it can be very strong - a little goes a long way. Don’t be put off by the vinegar - with both the fruity and tangy tones, it’s similar to having citrus in a cocktail.
How is it made?
Shrub makers combine the chosen fruit or juice of the fruit with sugar and vinegar and allow it to cook for several hours, then stew for one-two weeks. Once the fruits are strained, the mixture is then combined with cold water to make a slightly runnier syrup. Shrubs used to be a way to preserve fruit before industrial methods were invented. As we now have refrigeration and more readily available fresh food, shrubs were no longer necessary. Their popularity in recent years comes from their unique taste and the possibilities of flavour rather than necessity.
History of the shrub
In the UK during the 17th and 18th Century, a shrub was made using liquor, more often than not, brandy, yet in colonial America shrubs lost their alcoholic element and are much more similar to the recipes we use today.