Two Shrubs

We happened upon our first shrub (the drink) on a visit to Washington, D.C. a few years ago while lunching at America Eats Tavern. The shrub is a throwback to our Colonial American past. The English settlers preserved fruits and berries in vinegar for the off-season and those fruit infused vinegars were strained, mixed with sugar, and reduced into a syrup before being stirred into cold water or booze to create a refreshing drink.

Now that spring has finally arrived, the markets will be filling up with strawberries and rhubarb. Putting up jars of them now, packed in vinegar, will yield tart, fruity bases for thirst-quenching coolers in the summer months to come.

If you’re like us, you can’t help but buy more berries than you can eat while still at their best. Creating shrub syrups puts all those juicy berries to delicious, good old-fashioned use!

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Strawberry Shrub
2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
1 cup ultra fine sugar
1 cup of red wine vinegar

Place the strawberries in a clean, sterilized jar with sugar. Smash strawberries with a muddler (a bartender’s pestle). Add vinegar and place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours and up to 4 weeks.

Strain the liquid into a clean sterilized container. Refrigerate up to 4 weeks or more.

Rhubarb Shrub

2 cups fresh chopped rhubarb
1 cup ultra fine sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 white wine vinegar

Add the chopped rhubarb, sugar, and rice vinegar to a sauce pan over low to medium heat. Smash the rhubarb using a muddler as the sauce heats. Once the sugar is dissolved, take the pan off the heat and muddle some more. Pour the liquid into a clean sterilized container and add the white wine vinegar. Allow to cool before closing the lid. Store in the fridge for at least 48 hours and up to 4 weeks.

Strain the liquid into a clean sterilized container. Refrigerate up to 4 weeks or more.

Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Cocktail

2 ounce good gin
1 ounce strawberry shrub
1 ounce rhubarb shrub

Place some ice into a cocktail shaker. Add the gin and shrubs. Give the shaker a few good shakes. Stain into two chilled cocktail glasses. Top with sparkling rosé wine.


Inspiration for the recipes from:

Serious Eats; Cocktail 101: How to Make Shrub Syrups
the kitchn; How To Make a Fruit Shrub Syrup
BuzzFeed; Here’s What You Should Be Drinking This Summer


Irish Coffee

It’s fun to be writing our first Irish Coffee recipe. San Francisco lays claim to a modern classic in Jack Koeppler’s 1952 creation. Mr. Koeppler owned the storied Buena Vista Café, which sits perched above Fisherman’s Wharf and Aquatic Park on Hyde. The cocktail was apparently inspired by the Irish Coffee Mr. Koeppler happened upon in Shannon Airport in Ireland. On a quest, he enlisted the aid of travel writer Stanton “Stan” Delaplane, to help him come up with a facsimile.

Today, the café claims to sell as many as 2,000 Irish Coffees a day.* We don’t know if this statistic says as much about the quality of the drink as it does San Francisco’s drinking habits, but we aren’t judging.

So here it is, in time for your St. Patrick’s Day drink-up (or morning after recovery), the famous Buena Vista Café Irish Coffee:

Irish Coffee

6 oz. piping hot coffee
1.5 oz. good Irish whiskey (we’re fans of the 10 year old Bushmills single malt but the Buena Vista uses Tullamore Dew )
2 tbsp. sugar (traditional Irish recipes call for 2 tbsp. brown sugar)
3-4 tbsp. lightly whipped cream

Note: The Buena Vista Café serves Irish Coffee in what look like a cross between a desert glass and a beer glass, but any large coffee mug will do.

Heat coffee mugs by filling with hot water. Pour the water out, pour coffee, add sugar and whiskey and stir to melt sugar. Top by pouring slightly whipped cream over the back of a spoon to float it atop the coffee.

The coffee is to be enjoyed through the cream, so don’t shy away from that mustache.

*The Buena Vista Café Irish Coffee story can be found on the café web site.