Apricot Shrub: Light and Dark

OK. I know it’s a kind of craziness, I couldn’t resist making one more shrub this season, despite the fact that I am still working through the results of my last two efforts. Apricots have been much on my mind though. I was just been waiting until I found some really exceptional fruit. I started looking around at our local farmer’s markets and last week I found what I was looking for: some large, very ripe fruit (raised conventionally but more or less pesticide free) and at a good price. My thoughts this time were make two variations, both with cider vinegar but one with organic unrefined sugar (which is basically white) and one with Muscovado (which is basically granular molasses). Here’s a photo of what they looked like when I started maceration:

Light and Dark Apricot Shrub

How did they turn out?

These shrubs make one thing very clear to my palate: apricots and vinegar when blended together are highly complementary. In both light and dark versions it’s actually hard to tell where the taste of one ingredient stops and the taste of the other begins. The light version sampled by itself comes across almost simple tasting: neither apricot nor vinegar stands out. Mixing and diluting in a cocktail brings out more details. In the the dark version the molasses character of the Muscovado, which I was worried would be too assertive, adds welcome contrast and resulting complexity, though there is also something a bit harsh going on in there I’ve not yet figured out.

Mixing ‘em up…

Shrub continues to amaze me as cocktail ingredient. I find it’s almost always sufficient to pick a base spirit, add some shrub (more for brown goods, much less for white goods, even less for gin), chill and you’re done. Other flavors can be added but they are certainly not essential. Also, in the case of these apricot-based shrubs, mixing (essentially, diluting) with other ingredients helps to reveal more of the underlying fruit flavor.

On the other hand, when making shrub cocktails you are going to find some people who simply cannot get past the presence of vinegar in their libation, which they identify as “savory.” That’s OK: leaves more shrub for those of us who like an assertive cocktail.

One thing I haven’t noted in previous postings is that shrubs have a lot of very fine fruit particles suspended in them. This means if a cocktail is left to sit for a while will “break.” There’s nothing wrong with the drink after that point – it just needs to be swirled to mix everything back up. Still, I can see how that might not fit with everyone’s cocktail aesthetics.

Finally: the jury remains out for me whether to shake or stir these cocktails. Conventional wisdom says to shake. I’m just not so sure they need that much agitation so I’ve been stirring. What do you all think?

Apricot Almond Sour

2 oz. Osocalis brandy
1 oz. Light Apricot Shrub
1/4 oz. home made orgeat syrup
1 easy dash of Angostura bitters

Shake or stir over ice. Fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Apricot Almond Sour

Notes: Apricot and almond are just such a natural combination I had to make a drink based on them both. The batch of orgeat I’m currently using is particularly sweet (but also very intensely almondy). Adjust the proportion of orgeat you use accordingly. You don’t want this drink to be too sweet.

Aprikosenspiel

2 1/4 oz. Blume Marillen Apricot Eau de Vie
1/3 oz. Light Apricot Shrub
1/8 oz. Domain Canton ginger liqueur
1 dash Fee Bros. Peach Bitters

Shake or strir over ice. Fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Float three toasted almond slices on the top of the drink for a garnish.

Notes: I wouldn’t normally think of making a cocktail that uses an eau de vie as a base spirit but with the shrub it really works. The two play together fantastically. I added the tiniest bit of ginger liqueur and a dash of peach bitters for added complexity.

Little Shrub Punch

2 oz. Mt. Gay Eclipse rum
1 oz. Dark Apricot Shrub
1/4 oz. Navan vanilla cognac liqueur

Build in an old fashioned glass, stir, add large ice and serve. Garnish with a slice of fresh apricot.

Notes: This is modeled after a traditional Barbadian Ti (Petite) Punch. Almost any shrub flavor would do for this drink. Originally I tried this with several white agricole rums but found the vinegar did not play well against the funk. You can also skip the ice if that’s your inclination.

7 Responses to “Apricot Shrub: Light and Dark”

  1. Phyllis Says:

    My mouth is watering for the recipes for the Light and Dark Apricot Shrubs. Are they available?

  2. Would love the portions to the shrub recipes. I’ve been working on a cocktail that combines Cachaca, Apricot, and lemon. I’d be interested to see how an Apricot Shrub plays with these ingredients.

  3. I have had a lot of fun with shrubs this summer, blackberry, cherry and peach. I just finished the peach one. Its so easy
    1 to 1/2 cups fresh fruit
    1 cup sugar
    Mix and crush together, cover and put in refrigerator for 2-3 days. Add 1 cup vinegar, mix well and strain. The fruit that is left makes a marvelous spread for toast or English muffins. Here’s what I used for the peach shrub:
    1-1/2 cups fresh peaches, unpeeled, sliced
    1 cup sugar
    1/2 cup red wine vinegar
    1/2 cup Trader Joes white balsamic vinegar
    The only thing that limits you is your imagination.

  4. A horrible confession: I appear to have lost my original apricot shrub recipes! I’m pretty certain, however, that I followed Neyah White’s basic template, which goes as follows:

    1- Macerate equal amounts, by weight, of fruit and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Fruit should be cut up. Stone fruit should have the stones removed before weighing. If you want to do the maceration at room temp, add a little organic unpasteurized cider vinegar.

    2- Once you deem maceration to be complete (it usually takes a few days) add the same amount of organic unpasteurized cider vinegar, again by weight, as fruit. Mix well and let sit for a few days. (WRT to the choice of vinegar, obviously it can be varied. I prefer to stick with organic unpasteurized organic apple cider vinegar which isn’t too insanely hazy, just showing a little floculance to it’s alive.)

    3- Strain everything to remove any solid matter from the shrub—I recommend using a few layers of cheese cloth for this.

    4- Bottle the strained shrub. Shelf life is practically infinite.

    With respect to this last point, I just sampled both of the original apricot shrubs and they were both still delicious. (In fact, they might be even better now!)

    Let me know if you have any more questions.

    Michael

  5. P.S. I use glass storage jars with a bail and seal closure for most all of my “concoctions.” You can see them in most of my photos.

  6. So I have begun my first two batches of shrub. One is an organic local peach, the other made with Italian Prune Plum’s. After two days the maceration seems to be going well. I am doing one maceration at room temperature and one simply placed in the fridge. I figured I would wait a full 3 days before adding the apple cider vinegar. I will then let sit for 3 additional days. Can’t wait to try!

    Has anyone tried just using the acid from citrus instead of vinegar? I imagine it will take out some of the savory characteristics, but will lead to a somewhat similar result.

    Thanks for all the shrub info!

  7. Citrus juice by itself is not stable at room temperature (contains all sorts of sugars etc that will oxidize and go bad) and is not suitable for shrub.

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