Drinkers, are you tired of hangovers?
Abstainers, find yourself feeling like a dorky kid at parties with your can of Coke?
Everyone in between, want something delicious?

You need a shrub.

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I’m personally at a strange crossroads where I’m neither inclined to drink nor able to drink much of anything alcoholic. Hangovers are too time consuming. Driving is my responsibility at the moment. More than one drink gives me a headache. Plus, drunks are just so dreadfully 2010. After crowdsourcing my conundrum, Ms. Maggie of the self-named patisserie virtually directed me to shrubs, which are also known as “drinking vinegar.”

Sounds awful, doesn’t it?

After much research into the matter and a tamarind agua fresca bender, I decided to give it a go. After all, strawberries and balsamic rank high in the foodie canon and I’m not afraid of a little acidity. I followed the cold shrub recipe for my first attempt at strawberry rhubarb. It’s just as refreshing and awesome as anticipated, but I strongly feel the need to make some recommendations.

1) That whole equal parts sugar to fruit thing? You really don’t need that much sugar to macerate fruit. After sitting for two days, the concoction was 1/2 undissolved sugar and 1/2 fruit juice. Scale back to 1 part sugar to 2 parts fruit. 1.5 parts sugar if you’re dealing with something tart like rhubarb.

2) That whole equal parts vinegar to fruit syrup? You can do that if you really like some tang. However, I discovered that such a quantity of vinegar overpowers the fruit flavor and makes my one tooth hurt. (Eroded enamel, probably from last year’s whiskey predilection and nocturnal bruxing. What can I say? I’m getting old.) Try instead 1 part vinegar to 2 parts fruit syrup. For this particular batch, I used a bit of balsamic in addition to apple cider vinegar.

Once you’ve put the whole thing together, you simply add 2 ounces of shrub to 10 ounces of soda water with some ice. Stir. Drink. Voila. Fancy drinks that won’t ruin your life.

P.S. If you must, you can add your shrub syrup to some kind of booze. Sherry or vermouth are recommended for a nice light aperitif.

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