After several months of grueling permitting procedures, test batches, and label sampling, Spiker’s Shrubs are ready for prime time. We’ll be making our first deliveries this week to local retailers, and expect to expand our list of locations in the next few weeks.
If you’re new to the concept of “shrub” mixers, our product has nothing to do with landscaping. Instead, it’s a delicious, refreshing, intriguing, and versatile infusion of fresh fruit, sugar, and vinegar which can be used as a mixer for artisan sodas, cocktails, mocktails, and all sorts of culinary applications.
The word “shrub” comes from an ancient word which also gave birth to the words “sherbet” and “syrup”. While shrubs have been imbibed for centuries, they are just now working their way into the contemporary culinary scene. Shrubs are a must-have pantry item, because they provide endless options. Above all, shrubs are great for grown-up artisan sodas and mocktails.
[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]Planning a summer patio party? Shrubs are an ideal addition to your bar stock. Keep plenty on hand for thirst-quenching punches and individual drinks. They’re great for engagement parties, showers, weddings, and anniversary celebrations, too.[/quote]
How it began
Earlier last summer, when I decided to take a sabbatical from wine, I found myself searching for an alternative to the non-drinker’s stand-by: seltzer plus lime wedge. Talk about a snore! And I didn’t want to be sipping Diet Coke when all of my friends were swirling chardonnays. To the rescue came a home-brewed peach shrub infused with rosemary. Drizzled over cracked ice, layered with spritzy Perrier, and served in a hand-painted wine glass, this stunningly beautiful and fragrant beverage had eye appeal, and a to-die-for taste that was not just a substitute for wine; it was a true alternative. I no longer felt cheated by not drinking wine; I felt indulged.
I started working with a variety of fruits and techniques for creating the shrubs, and settled on a method which requires time, patience, and almost vintner-like sensitivity to balancing flavors. Shrubs possess a magical bouquet and body. When properly blended, there’s a satisfying tartness contributed by the vinegar, softness from the fruit. During the time it takes for our shrubs to mature, the infusions are transformed into a sum of all the ingredients.
If you aren’t fond of super-sweet flavors, you’ll welcome the fruit-tart freshness of shrubs. Shrubs are lighter, drier, and infinitely more complex than a flavored syrup. The typical portion for mocktail or cocktail is between one and two tablespoons of shrub (one-half to one ounce). At this ratio, one of our 250ml bottles makes anywhere from 8 to 16 servings. If you prefer a sweeter drink, you can fiddle around with the proportions to create a custom-blended balance which satisfies your personal tastes.
Shrubs play a strong supporting role in cooking as well as in beverage mixology. If you love greens — steamed, simmered, or raw — a splash of shrub is the perfect accent. If you are intrigued by classic French sauces — from beurre blanc to bearnaise — a swirl of shrub in place of regular vinegar takes your palate to a very happy place. Swirl some into a cup of hot or iced tea on a chilly afternoon. And if you’re a parent looking for a way to wean your kids off sugary drinks, whip up a shrub as a replacement for lemonade or uber-juicy juices.
Spiker’s Shrubs are shelf-stable, but like any natural product we suggest you keep it in the refrigerator after opening to prolong its fresh flavor and color.