It feels good to welcome back Mixology Monday from summer break! This month, the 109th online cocktail party, is hosted by Adam of Mister Muddle challenging us with Vinegar! I must admit to being glad to be back in the writing saddle as the summer has been exceptionally busy with other pursuits and some months, it is only Mixology Monday that gets me posting. As he puts it:
My theme this month is vinegar. Earlier this summer I went berry picking with the family, and we ended up with a quart of strawberries. If you don’t know exactly how many berries are in a quart, let me assure you it’s a lot. Obviously some of these were earmarked for cocktail usage, but I wanted to do more than garnishes and muddling. Enter the shrub, also known as drinking vinegar. The combination of fruit, sugar and vinegar has been around for centuries, particularly popular in Colonial America. While these are delicious with a splash of soda on the rocks, they bring a fresh, bright flavor when combined with spirits… This got me thinking — how else are people incorporating vinegar into their drinks? And why stop at shrubs? For this month’s MxMo, let’s make the whole range of vinegary things fair game. And I’m not just talking about throwing some olive juice into a Martini. Making a balsamic glaze for your pork chops? Save some for the bar. Want to have a good time and treat your psoriasis? Reach for that bottle of apple cider vinegar for your next cocktail. Got some favorite pickles? Use the juice as a component.
Admittedly, I’ve played around with some vinegar before like way back for MxMO LXXXII – Sours with The Balsourica and used a shrub for The Badges of Woe when MxMO MCIII had the theme of Blue. I’m returning to the shrubbery game here, but wanted to use a different method. Instead of cooking the syrup out for the shrub, I wanted to cold press it to keep more of the flavors of the fruit intact. A quick visit to the farmers market showed some beautiful peaches in season. From there, it was off the brainstorming. With a good cup and a half worth of fruit, the rest eaten, I started the shrub macerating the fruit with sugar and then combining the resulting syrup with a blend of apple cider and rice wine vinegars.
Also, do pardon the rather uninspiring photos this time around. It was already terribly dark by the time I took the pictures and digital editing only goes so far.
Cold Macerated Peach Shrub
- 1 1/2 Cups Peaches
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 3/4C Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/4C Rice Wine Vinegar
- Wash, peel, and pit the peaches
- Cut the peaches into small chunks or thin slices
- Cover with sugar, stir with your hands to ensure an even coating.
- Refrigerate the peach-sugar mixture at least 6-8 hours, with the longer the better if you can go for a few days.
- Strain the resulting syrup, gently pressing the peaches to liberate what liquid you can
- Combine with the vinegar and stir or shake until well combined.
To play with fruit in the heat of summer, I wanted to turn to my trusted liquor companion – Gin! The peaches, however, made me think more of whiskey. A whiskey sour is proof that a tangy whiskey drink works, so I started my thought process with the combination of bourbon and the shrub. Finally, to round out the flavors with some additional herbaceousness, a little bit of bitter, and a little bit of citrus, I turned to Cappelletti, one of my new standby components in the home bar. After giving that a quick shake and taste test, I decided to tweak it slightly to what you see below.
- 2oz Bourbon
- 1.5oz Peach Shrub
- .5oz Blanc Vermouth
- .25oz Cappelletti
- Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin, then top with ice until ⅔ full.
The fresh peach slice garnish brings a great deal of aroma to the drink, while the sweetness of the shrub plays up the sweetness of the bourbon being cut ever so smoothly by the peachy-soury flavors coming through. The hint of citrus and bitter sends me back to the glass for another sip with the vermouth playing a harmonizing role. The apple cider component does come on a bit strong, so I may make the next batch closer to an even split between rice wine and apple cider vinegar to let the peach come through even more.
Thanks to Adam at Mr. Muddle and Fred at Cocktail Virgin for continuing this fine tradition. Maybe a pickle-back inspired Manhattan is next, who knows? What are you drinking this fine Mixology Monday?