You might have noticed the term "shrub" appearing on more drinks around the country over the last few years, so what is it, and why are bartenders such a fan?
We caught up with author, bar-owner and drinks consultant Dave Tregenza from the Shrub and Shutter in Brixton to find out more and learn how to make one of his flagship cocktails from his & business partner Chris Edwards coffee table cocktail book, Doctor's Orders; 50 Inventive Cocktails to Cure, Revive and Enliven.
This full-length interview contains a great number of bartender top tips and we have included a number of recipes and methods from their book in the article below, they look great and taste amazing!
If you are lucky enough to live in South London drinks from the Shrub and Shutter can now be ordered through Deliveroo directly to your door. Order here
CREATING A STOCK SHRUB
Dave recommends creating a stock (or mother) shrub using a simple mix of equal parts water, caster sugar and vinegar (white wine or cider vinegar is recommended).
In the video, we used 200ml cider vinegar, 200g caster sugar and 200ml warm water. Dissolve the sugar in the water first until clear and then add the vinegar. This can now be bottled.
From this base, you can then make a number of different infusions.
These homemade infusions can then be added to twist a variety of cocktails (probably requiring no more than 10 - 15ml per drink depending upon your own personal preferences) and creates a great talking point when sharing with friends and family.
We also separately created a simple syrup: 1:1 caster sugar and water, 100ml warm water and 100g of caster sugar stirred until completely dissolved. This can be kept in the fridge indefinitely.
Image: The Shrub and Shutter Brixton
THE CUCUMBER DAIQUIRI
1) Prepare the shrub, ideally a day before (but a few hours will suffice). Simply infuse chunks of cucumber plus any additional spices (mustard seed, coriander seed and fennel seed all work well) with some of your mother shrub. Seal in a jar and let the flavours infuse.
2) In a cocktail shaker (or other item such as a jar jar, tin etc) add 2 inches of cut cucumber and lightly muddle, a term given to slowly breaking the fruit using a muddler (or pestle, rolling pin, back of spoon etc).
3) Add 15ml simple syrup (a 1:1 solution of caster sugar and water - always good to have some in the fridge as it will be used in almost every cocktail you create and isn't perishable).
4) Add 25ml fresh lime (roughly the juice of one lime).
5) Add 10ml of your cucumber shrub.
6). Add 50ml of white rum, if this isn't available you can experiment with other spirits and tequila works particularly well. We recommend white rum as you get a cleaner colour profile at the end but golden rum will also work.
7) Shake hard with ice in your shaker/jam jar etc. This shaking adds dilution to the drink as well and reducing the temperature, dilution is really important to the balance of a cocktail.
7) Strain into a glass ideally through a sieve/tea strainer and you will have a beautiful brilliant green drink that is refreshing and full of flavour.
8) Garnish with a cucumber wheel.
25ml Warner Edwards Dry Gin
25ml Warner Edwards Queen Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin
5ml zucca rhubarb amaro
15ml rhubarb shrub*
3 drops of fee brothers rhubarb bitters
25ml fresh lemon juice
20ml sugar syrup
1 egg white
rhubarb shrub - take 6 sticks of rhubarb and slice each one into quarters then add them to a pan. into the pan add 200ml of boiling water and 200 grams of caster sugar. then add 200ml of cider vinegar. heat the mix until the sugar has dissolved and the rhubarb breaks down. sieve the mix to leave just the newly formed shrub.
Garnish: pickled rhubarb* slices on a fork skewer, fresh raw rhubarb sticks and red vein sorrel cress.
*pickled rhubarb - slice a stick of raw fresh rhubarb into thin slices then leave in a pickling liquor of 100ml of white wine vinegar, 50ml of sugar syrup, 3 sprigs of thyme and approximately 20 pink peppercorns.
Method: add all ingredients to a shaker and dry shake. then add ice and wet shake hard. single strain into a vintage rocks glass over ice. sprinkle on the red vein sorrel cress and complete garnish with pickled rhubarb on a fork skewer ( rhubarb patch optional ).
Cocktails in the City say: This drinks looks amazing and by cooking the rhubarb with your stock shrub and working with a Rhubarb Gin you are halfway there. If the list of ingredients looks intimidating we reckon you can loose the Amaro and bitters and still have a great drink (try a dash of Angostura bitters if that's all you have in the house).
Image: R+H+U+B+A+R+B courtesy of Doctor's Orders
JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI
40ml cucumber-infused Portobello Road Gin*
20ml Akashi Tai Daiginjo Sake
10ml miso shrub**
3 drops of wasabi tincture*** ( to taste)
expressed lemon oils
*cucumber-infused portobello road gin - peel and then finely chop 2 cucumbers. add the chopped cucumbers to a jar filled with 1 bottle of portobello road gin. leave to infuse for at least one day before using.
**miso shrub - add 2 large tablespoons of miso paste into aiming bowl and water down with 100ml of boiling water. mix until a paste then add 300ml of sugar syrup and 300ml of rice vinegar. mix until all the miso paste has integrated into the liquid. leave the mix for at least 2 days before straining then mix through muslin. the miso shrub is now ready for service.
***wasabi tincture - grate 100 grams of fresh wasabi into a small jar. add 100ml of Balkan vodka over the wasabi and leave for at least 2 days. The tincture will now be ready for service, either strain or keep the wasabi in the mix longer to infuse more.
Garnish: shiso leaf, amaranth cress and sea bass sashimi with soy brush
Cocktails in the City say: cucumber makes a beautiful infusion and would work well with most gins. An exotic cocktail, very cleansing and refreshing, this would wow your guests.
Image: Jiro Dreams of Sushi courtesy of Doctor's Orders
Werewolf of London
40ml Langleys no.8 gin
10ml Luxardo maraschino
10ml Wolfschmidt kummel
15ml juniper & black pepper shrub*
25ml fresh lemon juice
15ml sugar syrup
*juniper and black pepper shrub – muddle in a pestle & mortar 25 crushed fresh juniper berries, 25 crushed black peppercorns and 20 caraway seeds. Add crushed mixture into 900ml of a warm stock shrub. leave for 2 days to infuse. then the shrub will be ready to use.
Garnish: Pink grapefruit expressed oils, pink grapefruit werewolf cut out on mini peg, maraschino cherry, silver sugar tongs
Method: Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice. double strain mixture into a Schott Zwiesel Basic Bar Cocktail Glass, express grapefruit peel oils over the glass and then rim the glass with the peel. clip cut out pink grapefruit werewolf onto the rim of the glass and drop the maraschino cherry into the bottom of the drink. add silver sugar tongs to the glass.
Cocktails in the City say: Kummel is beautifully spiced liqueur with caraway, cumin and aniseed and this drink has a wonderful medicinal flavour to it to restore and revive.
Image: Werewolf of London courtesy of Doctor's Orders
Add the cheapest ingredients first in case you make a mistake, add the alcohol last!
When making a gin and tonic you should have enough ice in the glass so it isn't floating, fill the glass to the top. A lack of ice will increase the rate of dilution and means you will also probably be adding too much tonic water relative to the gin.
Before shaking the drink it's worth having a quick taste of the mix to see if the balance works for you. It is easier to add more sugar to sweeten a drink if required than adding more citrus so go easy on the sugar to begin with.
Good equipment that you will be happy you invested in include:
FURTHER NOTES ON THE SHRUB
First appearing in the English Dictionary in 1747 The Shrub is described as "any of various acidulated beverages, made from the juice of fruit, sugar, and other ingredients, often alcohol".
Whilst there are a number of different references to the Shrub depending on whether it be an alcoholic drink or not and whether you are residing in the UK or the United States you would probably expect the drink to contain a mix of sugar, vinegar and fruit.
A great way to reduce waste and preserve ingredients, the use of vinegar also provides an interesting acidic note to the drink and it is this sharpness and character that has seen the rise in the drink over recent times.
A further article on the subject of the Shrub has been written on Difford's Guide courtesy of Tim Oakley and Alistair Reynolds.