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Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times Hardcover – October 6, 2014
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“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
“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
“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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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.
A few months ago I made a batch of a really simple strawberry shrub, and on day one it tastes like sugar, strawberries, and vinegar -- which is surprisingly good. Lemonade is acidic, after all, and that's why we like it. A couple of weeks later, after some chemistry has happened and the flavors have mellowed, it's ridiculous how bright and deep the strawberry flavor is. The second half of the book is recipes, and I look forward to trying out most of them.
Special shout-out to the lovely photos, It's a fun and great-looking book.
Nothing like a good shrub to satisfy on a hot day. My wife has made several batches of the rhubarb shrub already and we're stocking up for summer!!!