Listen My Children and You Shall Hear of a Colonial Drink That Brings Good Cheer: Raspberry Rum Shrub


Isn't that a bush?

Yes, unless you are talking about a refreshing drink from before sodas were the order of the day.

Slow Food USA tells us:
Shrub is a colonial-day drink whose name is derived from the Arabic word sharab, to drink. It is a concentrated syrup made from fruit, vinegar, and sugar that is traditionally mixed with water to create a refreshing drink that is simultaneously tart and sweet. In the nineteenth-century, the drink was often spiked brandy or rum. Ubiquitous in colonial times, the use of shrubs as a flavoring for tonic and sodas subsided with increasing industrial production of foods.
Reading Eric Felton's entertaining and informative book, How's Your Drink?: Cocktails, Culture, and the Art of Drinking Well, I came across his recipe for a Raspberry Rum Shrub. I remembered having seen similar recipes as curiosities in old cookbooks and the vinegar was offputting to my mental palate. Until, that is, I remembered lemonade with its sweet-tart combination that was diluted by water and ice to make a refreshing summer drink.

Ah ha!

Suddenly a shrub beverage was recategorized mentally and I was interested. Especially when considering it as something that would stand up to dark rum.

This was an easy recipe and yielded a lot of syrup. Felten points out, for those who do not want to make the syrup or who want different flavors, that Tait Farm Foods provides ready made shrub syrups in many flavors. They also have recipe booklets I noticed when stopping by their website which may come in handy when trying to figure out what to do with all this Raspberry Shrub syrup. Although, honestly, I like its flavor so well I can dip it out on a spoon. Mmmmm....

I might add here that the Raspberry Rum Shrub, which we made with ginger ale, got two thumbs up.

Here's the recipe for those who want to give it a try.

Raspberry Rum Shrub
1 ounce raspberry shrub syrup
2 ounces dark rum
4 ounces ginger ale or soda water

Build with ice in a stemmed goblet (I used wine glasses), and stir. Garnish with fresh raspberries.

Raspberry Shrub Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 pints raspberries
2 cups white wine vinegar

Whisk water and sugar together at a boil. Reduce heat for a few minutes and add raspberries, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add vinegar and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Strain, cool, and bottle. Keep refrigerated (even if the Founding Shrubbers didn't).

(Recipe courtesy of Walter Staib, Chef of Philadelphia's City Taverns.)


Meg said…
Well that makes sense! I wonder if the etymology is related to sherbet?

I never connected it before -- but Jack Aubrey (in the Patrick O'Brien novels) drinks hot lemon shrub when he has a horrible cold -- the equivalent of a hot rum toddy, I suppose!
Julie D. said…
Euw ... hot lemon anything sounds awful, but I do know it is traditional for sick people to have hot lemon drinks in the olden days.
Debbie said…
I guess you can always half the syrup recipe, but would it be good over vanilla ice cream?
Julie D. said…
Hmmm ... I hadn't thought of that. It might be a bit sharp, like putting lemonade concentrate on ice cream. The recipe booklet from Tait Farms has a recipe for chicken cooked with Raspberry Shrub that sounded good.

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