by:  SUBMITTED PHOTO - Drinking vinegars and shrubs will be popular alternatives to soda, ice tea and lemonade this summer. They are easy to make and refreshing.As part of my Mother’s Day celebration my sons treated me to a delightful dinner where they introduced me to a new beverage, drinking vinegar.

I sampled a rhubarb drinking vinegar and found it to be refreshing and delicious. It is nonalcoholic, but you can doctor it up with whatever you wish to make it otherwise. I see them as the hippest alternative to soda, iced tea or lemonade for the summer.

Drinking vinegars have been around for centuries and are currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Also known as shrub, the drink was popular in 17th- and 18th-century England. Vinegar was used as an alternative to citrus juices in the preservation of berries and other fruits for the offseason. Fruit preserves made in this fashion were known as shrubs and the practice of making them carried over to colonial America.

By the 19th century typical American recipes for shrubs used vinegar poured over fruit — most traditionally berries — which was left to infuse anywhere from overnight to up to several days. After the steeping was complete, the fruit would be strained out and the remaining liquid would be mixed with a sweetener such as sugar or honey and then reduced to make a syrup.

The sweet and sour syrup could be mixed with either water or soda water or could be used as a mixer in alcoholic cocktails. With the advent of home refrigeration, shrubs eventually fell out of popularity.

I have recollections of my parents enjoying a shrub in the summertime, so I called them to see what they could remember of making it.

They couldn’t come up with the exact recipe but recalled that they used lemonade as a base, then infused it with fruit and added gin for a refreshing cocktail.

Evidently you can make drinking vinegar out of any fruit. We sampled rhubarb, pineapple and ginger at Whiskey Soda Lounge while we waited for a table at Pok Pok. Other flavors available at Whiskey Soda Lounge were apple, raspberry and pomegranate.

If you want to sample drinking vinegars, visit Whiskey Soda Lounge, at 3131 SE Division St., or Pok Pok, at 3226 SE Division St. You can buy drinking vinegar by the glass or bottle.

Are you game to make a batch? With local strawberries hitting the market I am going to be making strawberry drinking vinegar. It could be the biggest hit of the summer and they will go great with the kalbi and sushi rice salad in the 52 Sunday Dinners series.

Bon appetit! Eat something wonderful!

Strawberry Drinking Vinegar

Makes around 1 1/2 cups of syrup

1 cup strawberries, hulled and cut into chunks

1/2 sugar (or honey or stevia)

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup plus more to taste of apple cider or red wine vinegar

Ice cubes and soda water

Fennel, basil, or mint sprigs to garnish

Blend the strawberries into a puree using a blender or food processor. Then strain them through a sieve into a bowl, pressing on the solids in the sieve to get all of the smooth puree out.

In a small saucepan combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil, stirring until all the sugar dissolves. Simmer on low for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Stir together the syrup and the strawberry puree. Stir in 1/4 cup of vinegar, taste and add more to taste. Put in a covered container and refrigerate until you want to use it. It will keep for at least a couple of weeks in the fridge.

To make a drink, put 1 or 2 ounces of the fruit vinegar in a glass, add a couple of ice cubes, then top it off with cold seltzer water. Garnish the drinks with a sprig of herb. You can make the drink stronger or weaker to suit your mood. You can also use the base for exciting cocktails.

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281, ext. 100, or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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