Sunday, April 25, 2021

Caribbean Shrub (Death & Co. Recipe)

I've drank shrub cocktails before. I rather like them. This is the first I've made from scratch. A shrub is a mixture of vinegar, fruit and sugar. Some barenders keep living shrubs in jars, feeding them with leftover wine. This shrub is a balsamic gastrique, which is more like a dark, tangy sauce drizzled on cooked meats or vegetables as an accent flavor. 

The reception of this cocktail was tremendous. Sweet cocktails need balance with acid, and this acid (the strawberry balsamic gastrique) had barrel aged balsamic vinegar and strawberries cooked into it. The chemical formula of vinegar is different from citric acid, your typical lemon juice acid, and we take notice with our senses. But the drink works. It transports you to a colonial time when shrubs were used to preserve fruits and add acid to cocktails that haven't been in fashion for 200 years.

To make the strawberry-balsamic gastrique combine 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 1 1/2 cups of water. Cook over low heat stirring constantly the sugar is dissolved. Add 2 cups of cut strawberries and simmer for 30 minutes while stirring occasionally. Stir in 1 cup of balsamic vinegar and raise heat to a boil while stiring contiuously. Lower the temperatore and allow to thicken for 30 minutes, still stirring. Allow to cool and strain through a cheesecloth. This gastrique will keep if refrigerated for up to three weeks.

For the Caribbean Shrub recipe:

  • 1 oz. Appleton Estate rum (George Bowman used)
  • 1 oz. Rhum Agricole blanc (Barbancourt 4-year-old used)
  • 3/4 oz. strawberry-balsamic gastrique
  • 3/4 oz. cane sugar syrup
  • 1/2 strawberry garnish

Shake all liquid ingredients with three ice cubes in a shaker to chill. Strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with the half strawberry.


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