Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Summer Cocktail Season // Shrub Mixers For the Win

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I hope everyone had an amazing Memorial Day weekend! We were in Wellfleet on the Cape enjoying the gorgeous weather and spending time with my husband's extended family. It was so great to see everyone after the Winter from Hell ... except for the part when I messed up my neck while - wait for it -- doing my early-morning yawn/stretch. Yeah, that. Hi aging-process, how ya doin?

Anyway, we opted to come back early yesterday in order to avoid the traffic, get ready for the coming week and, most importantly, to head over to a backyard barbeque with good friends, delicious food and great drinks. Because really, is there anything better than an early summer backyard gathering with cool people? Let me answer that: No.

Because the party included some serious cocktail connoisseurs -- yes, the folks from this post and this post were in attendance -- we decided to pick up a fun "shrub" mixer from a great little shop that we stumbled upon in Wellfleet and bring with us to the gathering. If you haven't heard of shrubs, you're not alone. Until a college friend and reader mentioned them to me a couple of months ago in response to my last post on cocktails, I'd never heard of them either. But once she'd tuned me in, I was intrigued. Because, well, they're mixers made from sweetened vinegar that's infused with fruit juice, herbs and spices and and they pair well with gin, rum & vodka (my favorite). And according to Wikipedia, they've been around since Babylonian times. Sounds disgusting and weird, right? Except they are de-li-cious.

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We purchased two kinds at Lola's Local Food Lab in Wellfleet (it's a really funky new space and totally worth tracking down if you're in town over the summer) -- Blueberry Basil and Cucumber Dill. We opened the Blueberry Basil during cocktail hour on Sunday night and OH MY GOD, luurrvvve.  It was a huge hit: the kiddos had it with seltzer and the adults mixed it with vodka & seltzer ... and it didn't last very long. We took the Cucumber Dill with us to the party and it was also yummy (though my heart still belongs to the Blueberry Basil). It was a really unique taste -- something that a person like me (who can't handle most mixed drinks because they're too sugary) really craves after months of drinking the same thing --fresh and bright but no overwhelming. I think this may end up being the Summer of The Shrub; there are so many versions out there that I want to try now!

If you're interested in giving shrubs a try but can't find them locally, it's apparently really easy to make them. Here's an article that includes several shrub recipes ( I'm giving a hard think to giving that Fennel Apple Rhubarb version a try ). And this one definitely has a date with my low-ball this summer. Like, for sure.


  1. Kate Cuddihy BassettMay 29, 2015 at 5:06 PM

    Just made my own strawberry/ white balsamic shrub, which I'll garnish with either mint or basil as this mood strikes... Can't wait for it to be ready tomorrow! If this comes out right, I'll try the same recipe for a blueberry basil...

  2. Mmm; that sounds *amazing*!! Was it as easy to make as the recipes say? I think I may need to give it a whirl this weekend...

  3. Kate Cuddihy BassettMay 30, 2015 at 6:12 AM

    I used this recipe, because it didn't require me letting it sit overnight before enjoying, and we had some strawberries that were just about to turn :) I replaced the red wine vinegar with gold and balsamic which I had in my pantry and I really love. http://fiveandspice.com/2011/07/26/drinking-vinegar/