If you’re a foodie, then chances are you also enjoy a cocktail from time to time; and if you’re cocktail enthusiast then you’ve probably enjoyed the renaissance trend of drinking shrubs. But “what is a shrub?” you ask..?The word shrub is derived from the Arabic word sharab, which means “to drink.” The basic recipe calls to combine fruit or juice with sugar and vinegar, allowing that mixture to steep for a week or so, then mix the resulting syrup with soda, tonic, or spirits to create a surprisingly delicious, tart summer beverage. Over the years, we’ve sipped many of these wonderful specimens, which were common in Colonial America.
So, what happened to the popularity of shrubs since the Colonial days? Well, shrubs were most commonly used to preserve fruit harvests and as an alternative to drinking water, since water back in those days was untreated and could sometimes be dangerous to consume. Eventually, as society started to industrially produce foods and install affordable home refrigeration, the once-revered shrub archetype simply lost its place in day-to-day consumption. Sad…but true.
But now shrubs are back and better than ever, forging an important place in the hearts, minds, and palates of cocktail enthusiasts everywhere. In fact, Amy Stewart, New York Times best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist, will visit the Museum later this week to discuss the delicious virtues of the American Shrub. In the meantime, our very own Jay Dee Menchue, Eleven Service Manager and part-time cocktail wizard, has concocted two wonderfully delicious and exciting shrubs for your enjoyment and consumption: so drop by Eleven and sip one for yourself!
NOTE: Amy Stewart will also be at the Museum for our Crystal Bridges Garden Party on Saturday, May 9. She’ll be doing a shrub-making demo on the South Lawn from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., and will give an illustrated lecture on “Wicked Plants” in the Great Hall from 3 to 4 p.m. Be sure to join us! Live, Love, and Drink Responsibly with Art!