The theme for this month’s Mixology Monday was Sours, which may be the largest cocktail category. MxMo challenges are a good opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone, so I decided not to use citrus as my source of acidity. Instead, I experimented by making my first shrub.
A shrub is a drinking vinegar made by mixing fruit with vinegar and sugar. I find this especially appealing because I am a vinegar fiend – after eating a salad, I like to drink every last bit of vinaigrette from my plate (no, I don’t do this in fine dining establishments, only in the comfort of my own home). I like vinegar so much I even own a vinegar (and beer) shampoo (which I don’t drink, although it is very tempting).
I’ve been making a lot of calvados + scotch drinks these past few months and wanted to use this as my base. Calvados is distilled from apples sometimes mixed with pears, so I went with a pear shrub. To make the shrub, I mixed equal parts mashed Bosc pear, sugar, and apple cider vinegar. I let the mixture steep in the fridge for a week before filtering out the pear. I used egg white in the cocktail to temper the shrub somewhat.
My first version of the cocktail was too vinegar-forward and the acidity masked the scotch almost completely. I corrected the course by adding simple syrup, and a couple of dashes of Peychaud’s to round up the flavors. The resulting version was much more harmonious and had a brightness evocative of pear eau de vie in the finish.
1.5 oz calvados | 1/2 oz scotch | 1/2 oz pear shrub | simple syrup to taste (I used 1/2 oz) | 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters | egg white | mix with stick blender | shake with ice | strain into coupe | grated tonka bean garnish
Next I wanted to play with a drink that already contained pear eau de vie. In Toby Maloney’s Williams Fizz, lemon juice is the acidic component. I made my version by replacing it with the pear shrub. The vivaciousness of the pear brandy was a good match for the shrub. This was a bit like an apple and pear Ramos Gin Fizz. In using the shrub, I found out that a little goes a long way (I used half the amount specified for lemon juice). Also the sugar content may need to be adjusted if the shrub is too intense, which is easily achieved by adding a bar spoon or two of simple to the cocktail. The acidity of the shrub will vary based on the fruit used, so tasting is important.
1 oz calvados | 1 oz pear eau de vie | 3/8 oz pear shrub | 1 barspoon simple syrup | egg white | mix with stick blender | shake with ice | strain into Collins glass | top with soda water | grated tonka bean garnish
Thanks to the Andrea of the Ginhound blog for hosting this Month’s MxMo Challenge. I can’t wait to read what the other participants came up with.
Further reading about shrubs: