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Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times Hardcover – October 6, 2014

28 customer reviews

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Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times + Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas + Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Michael Dietsch has poked a pinhole in the past, and from this has projected the whole curious enterprise of drinkable vinegars in an enchanting light. Who would have thought spoiled wine or cider could taste so good? (Wayne Curtis, Author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails)

Imagine a fizzy, soda-like drink that is drier and so much more sophisticated than soda, what with the sugar and botanical ingredients. Shrubs! Amazing! Wonderful! (Amy Stewart, the Drunken Botanist)

Shrubs: The Reason You Should Be Drinking Vinegar This Summer. (The Boston Globe)

About the Author

Michael Dietsch is a writer, editor, and accidental bartender in Brooklyn. He is a contributor at SeriousEats.com and writes about spirits and cocktails at the website A Dash of Bitters. When he's not mixing drinks, he's smoking huge chunks of meat, grilling vegetables, bicycling, or enjoying a fine cigar. He lives in Brooklyn with his family.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Countryman Press; 1 edition (October 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581572441
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581572445
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My first book, SHRUBS, is out! Published by Countryman Press, a division of W. W. Norton. In SHRUBS, I look at the history of the beverages called shrub, from their origins in the Middle East up through to their modern use in the trendiest cocktail bars and restaurants. Yes, beverages. There are at least two, and there might be three, depending on how you count things.

I am a writer, editor, blogger, drinker, husband, and stay-at-home dad to two beautiful children in Brooklyn, New York. When I'm not writing, blogging, editing, drinking, husbanding, and dadding, I like to cook, bike, walk, and smoke cigars, though seldom all at once. I used to like to grill and smoke meats and vegetables in my spare time, but I currently lack a grill and a yard. Or for that matter, spare time.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Szilagyi on October 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fantastically written and gorgeous drinks cookbook. The recipes are straightforward, easy to follow, and the photography of the drinks and some accompanying food is great. These drinks are starting to make a comeback, and are part of North American history, back to the colonial American era. Not all of them are alcoholic drinks, either, and some of those could work fine if you just exclude the alcohol. It's a great purchase and it's going to take a while to work through my new drinking backlog. I sort of feel like I should wear a tricorne when I read the book, in a good way.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Erik Haltson on November 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Vinegar? Drinking vinegar? What? Is this some kind of weird Brooklyn hipster thing, like fixed-gear bikes and handlebar mustaches? Well... it's old-fashioned, and it's clever (preserving fruit was a thing before refrigeration was a thing, after all), and the author actually does live in Brooklyn. But look, the point is, sometimes there's real value in checking out supposedly obsolete or quaint old traditions. Especially when they're delicious.

The first section of the book is a nicely well-rounded (but not dry or stuffy) history of the two kinds of beverages that have at various times and in various places been known as shrubs; one has sugar, fruit, and alcohol (mostly rum, back in the day) and one was a sugary, tart, herb-infused beverage that honestly sounds like the 12th century version of modern sodas, except way better (seriously, would you rather drink Arctic Blast Extreme, or Peach Honey Mint?). It's fascinating to read about the way these drinks moved across Europe, then to Colonial Amercia, where shrubs were common. There are recipes from at least a couple of guys who now appear on money, for example. (In both original form, and updated, because Dietsch cares about the historical accuracy but also the flavor.)

Shrubs never went away completely, but they sure did become obscure, and that's interesting too. Dr. Pepper claims to have 23 flavors, and that's typical for something invented in early 20th-century America. What can be really great is a simple-sounding but amazingly effective combination of sweet, acidic/ tart, and fruit. It helps that shrubs are very, VERY easy to make at home. For those few ingredients you can get a lot of flavors.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Tim Thraves on October 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I tried one of Michael's recipes that I found in a magazine and was instantly hooked. The book does a magnificent job of discussing the history of shrubs, the different styles through time, a vast collection of recipes, and finally some really outstanding cocktails utilizing the shrubs. The photography is great, the writing is spot on, and the recipes are simple to follow and execute as well providing reasons why he went certain directions with different recipes. I've tried another 3 recipes since getting the book less than a month ago, and my children beg me to make a new one the second we've gone through one. I highly recommend this book for adults looking for an alternative to overly sweet soft drinks, and aspiring cocktail makers looking for new and exciting ingredients for your concoctions.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By JMForester on November 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Everything you ever wanted to know about the historical fruit and vinegar beverage called Shrub. Michael Dietsch has done a great job on researching the history of these alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, as well as discussing how to make them. He has both recipes, and information on how to create your own. Shrubs once very popular up to around a hundred years ago, are now becoming popular again. They are mostly seen in high end restaurants and cocktail bars, but with this book you can easily make them at home. Whether you want non-alcoholic ones to serve to family, guests and kids, or the alcoholic ones with a bit of a kick, you'll be able to make them with no worries. I had made some shrubs in the past, but after reading this I immediately created several new shrubs based on Dietsch's recipes such as plum and spices, peach and herbs, and one where I tried something totally new, guava with rose and vanilla. A friend came over to visit the other day. She can't drink much alcohol because of medication. She told me she had tried a shrub at a local restaurant and liked it very much. When she heard I had made some I had to serve her them. She ended up going home with several bottles of the various shrub syrups I had made. If you like fruity, herbal, and tangy beverages; then you have to get this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover
There I was, telling my kids (20 and 23, still in college, so they kind of listen to me) that German cooking was misunderstood because vinegar was such an underrated flavor. Vinegar is great stuff, I told them, but we're told "sour" is bad! Grumble, grumble...and then Michael Dietsch's book arrived in the mail. I haven't stopped the sour since.
Shrubs are a terrific thirst quencher, going back to the old horse cavalry trick of pouring a couple caps of vinegar in the water in your canteen to cut the dust. I pour a few tablespoons of shrub (the cranberry's delicious) into a tall glass of club soda and ice, and I don't need anything else. It's easier and more rewarding than the homebrewing I used to do. Great book, highly recommended.
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