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Mocktail Monday is coming

CorsicanWithBeverageWhether you’re preparing for an important meeting, training for a triathlon, or maybe trying to lose weight, it’s great to have options when you’re taking a break from alcohol. That’s why we’re big advocates of starting off the week on a lighter note.

To give you a bit of help in visualizing your options sans-alcohol, we’re launching a new weekly blog feature: Mocktail Monday. Each week we’ll present a recipe for a non-alcoholic beverage with lovely flavor layers that will tantalize your tastebuds and give your liver a break from the usual. Our all-natural fruit shrub concentrates will play a key role in the ingredients list, so be sure to browse our selection, and place an online order for local pickup, or visit Leary’s Fine Wines and Spirits,  Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury, or Tendercrop Farm in Newbury to purchase directly.

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Spiker’s Shrubs at Cider Hill Farm starting July 9

ciderhillfarm_spread_1Great news! We’re proud to announce that starting July 9, you will be able to find Spiker’s Shrubs at Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury MA. Treat yourself to the fresh flavors of our pure-fruit mixers: Blueberry Juniper, Pineapple Basil, Raspberry Lime, and Strawberry Rhubarb.

Cider Hill Farm has a sterling reputation for the quality of its produce, its commitment to the environment, and its reputation as a leader and team player among the local and sustainable gardening network. And it doesn’t hurt that Cider Hill is less than a half-mile from our door!

We look forward to a long and — yes — fruitful relationship with Cider Hill. Be sure to check our calendar for information about our upcoming tasting event on Wednesday, July 16.

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Leary’s of Amesbury now carries Spiker’s Shrubs

vineandbrownshrubsatlearysWe’re delighted to announce that starting July 8, you’ll find a selection of our fabulous fruity-tart mixers on the shelves of Leary’s Fine Wines and Spirits of Amesbury (Carriagetown Marketplace, 100 Macy Street).

It’s great to be part of Leary’s merchandise selection. The store is bright and spacious, with plenty of free parking and easy access to I-95 and Route 110 destinations. And of course we love that it’s part of our home-town base. You’ll find our shrubs in left side of the store, among the cocktail mixers.

The Los Angeles Times describes shrubs as “tart, acidic, and weirdly, wonderfully refreshing.” Award-winning food blogger Amy Sherman recently reported that shrubs were one of the hottest items at the 2014 Fancy Food Festival.

You’ll be amazed at the versatility of Spiker’s Shrubs:

  • Add a 0.5 ounce splash to your favorite cocktail to add depth and complexity to the other ingredients.
  • Mix with Champagne, Proseco, or Moscato for a shrub-bubbly experience.
  • Use your Soda Stream or bottled seltzer/mineral water to create alcohol-free artisan sparklers and spritzers that are light and bright rather than overly sweet and unnaturally flavored.
  • Mix into lemonade, iced tea, or kombucha to introduce a variety of new fruity goodness.
  • And don’t forget to try them in cooking. They’re fabulous in salad dressing, stir fries, and sauces!
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Spiker’s Shrubs pure fruit mixers are ready for prime time

Vine and Brown Cranberry Pomegranate ShrubAfter 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.

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Mocktail Monday: Berry Sencha Spritzer

Blueberry Sencha Spritzer (M)
Blueberry Sencha Spritzer (M)

This week’s recipe features Spiker’s Raspberry Bergamot shrub. The rich, plum-red infusion delicately scented with Italian bergamot oil creates a heavenly spritzer when blended with Japanese Sencha green tea. The unique method of cold infusing (described below) was adapted from Sebastian Beckwith’s inspirational web site and description of tea traditions. We’ll be presenting more recipes with infused tea bases as time goes by, so we highly recommend that you visit his site to become better informed about how to select and brew fine teas.

INSTRUCTIONS (Begin 30 minutes before serving)

  • 2 tablespoons Sencha green tea leaves (you may also use gyokuro or Chinese green tea)
  • 4 to 6 ice cubes
  • 2 tablespoons Spiker’s Raspberry Bergamot Shrub
  • 2 springs fresh mint
  • Perrier mineral water with lime (or your favorite sparkling water)
  • Blackberries and/or mint leaves to garnish

Prepare the Sencha Tea Infusion: In a 4 to 8 ounce glass or ceramic container, place the tea leaves and ice cubes. Pour a few tablespoons of cold, filtered water over the ice and allow the tea to infuse for at least 20 minutes.

Strain the infused liquid — you should have approximately 1/8 to 1/4 cup — and keep the remaining ice and tea leaves in the container. While you are making your cocktail, you can allow the ice to melt and create a second infusion to use in a mocktail for another day. Or freeze and save for future beverages.

Prepare the Mocktail: In a tall glass, place the mint leaves and Spiker’s Raspberry Bergamot (or try our Berry Amour shrub, a blend of raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries with a touch of bitter Seville orange). Muddle the mint leaves until well bruised. Add the first tea infusion and fill the glass halfway with ice. Gently add the Perrier and a splash of Grapefruit bitters (optional), stir to incorporate the ingredients, and taste. Add extra shrub to adjust the sweetness level to suit your taste. Garnish with a few blackberries or mint leaves and serve.