Need a refreshing, thirst-quenching drink to combat the heat of summer? Here is your answer. A raspberry shrub. And it cools you down without any alcohol or sugar. Sparkling mineral water, fresh mint, flavored liquid stevia drops, and the secret ingredient – vinegar. Yes, vinegar. Don’t run away because it sounds crazy, read on. You must try this! Terrific for your July 4th party needs, and all summer long refreshment.
Vinegar Drinks: Shrubs and Switchels
Sometimes called a Switchel, drinking vinegar in beverages has a long global and cross-cultural history. Old English versions often contained spirits and citrus juices. The American version of the Shrub used vinegar as an alternative to citrus juices as a way to preserve of berries and other fruits before refrigeration was invented.
While Shrubs fell out of fashion when refrigeration came along, they were resurrected in 2011-2012 by American restaurants and bars and are now gaining in popularity again.
Unfortunately many recipes use lots of sugar because they are based on simple syrups. Simple syrups are basically sugar to which water has been added and cooked down to a syrup.
How I Discovered Shrubs
It was my friends Dustin and Lesli Tanski at their store, Vom Fass, in Fort Collins, Colorado who introduced me to shrubs. Dustin is one of those people I could talk to for hours. We share a passion for great ingredients and exploring what you can do with them. And we have spent lots of time on the phone doing just that.
Talking with Dustin one day I said, these vinegars are so delicious I could drink them. And he said, well you can and we do! That’s when I learned about shrubs. Sounded crazy but I quickly discovered Shrubs are terrific.
Mint and Raspberry Shrub
When I want to replace sugar in something, I often turn to Sweet Drops, the flavored liquid stevia drops made by Sweet leaf. The berry flavor was the perfect way to make a quick and healthier version of a shrub without a simple sugar syrup.
No simple syrup, no infusing berries. Just fruit-based vinegar, flavored liquid stevia drops and sparkling water. I use San Pellegrino. So easy! Fill a glass with ice, pour in about 2 tablespoons of raspberry vinegar, fill with sparkling San Pellegrino water, add mint and fresh raspberries and you have a refreshing, non-alcoholic beverage.
Don’t skip the mint. It’s not just for looks. It adds wonderful flavor. And mint is so easy to grow in warm months. Get a pot going in your backyard, porch, balcony or kitchen window.
Drink this mint and raspberry shrub in the afternoon as a pick-me-up. Serve them at cocktail hour for your friends who prefer not to drink wine or spirits. It’s great for entertaining any time. Even kids can drink them.
Choosing Raspberry Vinegar
Raspberry vinegar is widely available in most grocery stores and online. You can find many brands on Amazon if your local store doesn’t carry it. But if you are going to ship from Amazon, you might as well try Vom Fass. Their vinegars are pure fruit wine vinegars, not infusions.
The Ultimate Raspberry (and other) Vinegars
A few years ago I discovered what I believe are the best vinegars in the world, made in Germany. I order my fruit vinegars from Vom Fass in Fort Collins, Colorado. I use both the Raspberry Balsamic and the Star Raspberry for shrubs. The Star versions of the vinegars are a bit sweeter and a little more expensive. They can explain the difference to you when you call to order.
Yes, you do have to ship them and no they are not cheap. If you are adventurous and love to find speciality artisan ingredients, treat yourself. Like me, I bet you will be hooked. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Their fruit vinegars have a high fruit content, mild acidity and intense aromas and flavors.
They offer 100ml bottles but that is only about 6-7 tablespoons. You will go through it pretty quickly, believe me. So I suggest you order the 250ml bottles. I usually order the 500’s on my favorite flavors I use more quickly.
All of the flavors make incredible vinaigrettes for salads and sauces too. When you call they can tell you all about the range of flavors and prices. I have apple, calamansi, two kinds of raspberry, date, blueberry, mango, cranberry and a ginger blend in my pantry.
Note – the Calamansi vinegar (a Philippine citrus) with lemon stevia drops are incredible! Like a cross between ginger ale and 7-UP. No kidding. May have to post that too.
Here is a link to the store locator. Stores are opening across the US. And here is a link to more information about their vinegars.
The cranberry and blueberry are amazing as well. Seriously, the blueberry you can drink off a spoon. Here is a recipe I did with the Vom Fass blueberry vinegar for a grilled chicken salad with blueberry vinaigrette.
More Helpful Links
And here is a post on a more traditional shrub made with a simple syrup, from my friend Rachel at LaFujiMama.com. When I saw her post I knew I had to post my version!
- Ice to fill a glass
- 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar see post for ideas
- 12-16 ounces San Pellegrino sparkling water
- A few drops berry flavored liquid stevia drops Sweet Leaf Sweet Drops
- A few sprigs of fresh mint optional garnish, but adds flavor
- 4-6 fresh raspberries optional garnish
- Fill glass with ice, pour raspberry vinegar over the ice cubes. Add a few drops of the berry flavored liquid stevia and fill the glass with the sparkling water. Stir, and top with the mint and raspberries.