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Mocktail Monday: The Wood Stacker

This year, our firewood delivery took place during an unseasonably warm stretch of weather here in Massachusetts. Understandably, we worked up quite a thirst while moving the logs from their dumping spot to the racks behind our shed.

Initially, I made several trips to the house to refill my water bottle. But plain H2O just wasn’t cutting it. And then I remembered how pioneers often would drink a vinegar-honey-ginger beverage called  “switchel” — also known as “Haymaker’s Punch” — to provide hydration during their long stints in the field. Using some of our newly-bottled Roasted Cinnamon Apple Shrub and Ginger Bite, plus some chilled seltzer, I created my own variation on this theme. Ahhh! Truly more refreshing than water, and a lot more interesting.

Mocktail Monday: The Wood Stacker

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces mineral water or seltzer
  • 1 ounces Spiker's Roasted Cinnamon Apple Shrub
  • 1 ounce Spiker's Ginger Bite Shrub
  • 2-3 slices pickled "sushi" ginger optional for garnish
  • 2-3 ice cubes coarsely cracked

Instructions

  • Place the Apple Crisp shrub, ground ginger, and pickled ginger in a beverage glass. Muddle gently.
  • Crack the ice and add to the glass.
  • Pour the mineral water (or seltzer) into the glass slowly, and gently stir to incorporate the ingredients. Serve immediately.

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Mocktail Monday: Berry Fruity Mock Sangria

The appeal of sangria lies in large part to all the fruity photos which show a goblet or wine glass chock full of berries, orange slices, etc. But real sangria isn’t served like that. The fruit stays in the pitcher, and the drink goes in the glass.

The other thing sangria has going for it is that ruby-rich color. (The name sangria is derived from the Spanish word for blood.) Continue reading Mocktail Monday: Berry Fruity Mock Sangria

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Shrubby Margaritas: Sinful, Saintly, and In-Between

To celebrate National Margarita Day (Sunday, February 22), we’re sharing a trio of recipes featuring the fruity-tart pop of our Crangerine or Pineapple Basil Shrub. (You can substitute any of our shrub flavors for variations.) In all three cases, we are sticking to the classic and classy margarita. No day-glow colors, slush, or chemical-laden mixers allowed. Just natural ingredients in the right proportions.

On the sinful side, anyone with a taste for tequila can choose Recipe #1. If you avoid alcohol altogether but still want something festive to enjoy with chips and guacamole, Recipe #3 should fit the bill. And if you fall somewhere in between — say you’ve already had a few full-strength ‘Ritas and you want to lighten up, or you just want to cut back on the calories and booze from the git-go — Recipe #2 is for you.

Recipe #1: Sinful Shrub Margarita

This recipe has the highest alcohol content, hence earning the “sinful” badge. But it is also sinfully delicious: a wonderful balance of sweet, tart, smoky and fruity. We’re partial to on-the-rocks treatments, and also to a delicate dusting – not a crust – of natural sea salt on the rim of the glass.

Ingredients:

  • Medium-grind sea salt (Atlantic Saltworks, Marblehead Salt Co.) – optional
  • 2 ounces Tequila
  • 1 ounce Triple Sec (Cointreau preferred)
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice (save the lime wedge if you want to rim your glass with salt
  • 0.5 ounce Spiker’s Shrub (we recommend Crangerine or Pineapple Basil for the most classic flavor profile, but have fun experimenting with our other flavors as well)
  • Ice (2-3 cubes per drink)

Instructions:

  1. If desired, rub the rim of a chilled glass with a lime wedge and dip the glass lightly in natural sea salt. Wait 5 minutes or so to give the salt a chance to properly adhere to the rim.
  2. Place the remaining ingredients in a shaker and give 35-50 vigorous shakes. Pour gently into the glass.

Recipe #2: Slightly Sinful Shrub Margarita (or perhaps Slightly Saintly?)

You can trim the alcohol content of your margarita somewhat by eliminating the Triple Sec/Cointreau, and increasing the amount of Spiker’s Shrub from 0.5 ounce to 1.5 ounces. Simple!

Recipe #3: Saintly Shrub Margarita

As with all mocktails, the big challenge lies in giving the drink a sophisticated layer of flavors. We don’t believe in calling something a “mocktail” when it’s really nothing more than a glorified punch loaded with sugary juices.

So in this case, our goal was to find a way to emulate some of the flavor notes of tequila: floral, smoky, spicy. For this, we turned to the exotic Lapsang Souchong tea. Look for the best quality you can find. Lapsang Souchong has flavor notes evocative of pine smoke, whiskey, and lychees. For a tad of pleasing back-of-the-throat warmth, a tiny pinch of cinnamon adds a perfect accent.

Finally, don’t forget the bitters! Although most bitters do contain somewhere around 40% alcohol by volume, the drop or two you’d use in a drink is so scant that it is classified as a non-alcoholic food ingredient. You’ll have to shop around to find good bitters. Many liquor stores put the bottles on the lowest shelf they can find — one notch lower and they’d be in the basement. We found our Hella Bitters on a top shelf at Shubie’s Market in Marblehead…right next to our shrubs. Classy!

Shrubbed Saintly Margarita Mocktail

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Lapsang Souchong tea brewed in advance and chilled (see below)
  • 1 ounce Lime juice freshly squeezed
  • 1 ounce agave nectar
  • 1 ounce Spiker's Tuscan Tangerine Shrub or try any of our other flavors for variety
  • ice
  • pinch ground cinnamon a teeny pinch!
  • dash Hella Orange or Ginger Lemon Bitters do not use agnostura!

Instructions

  • If desired, rim your glass with salt as described above.
  • Add the remaining ingredients into the cocktail shaker and give 35-50 vigorous shakes.
  • Carefully pour into the prepared glass and enjoy.

Notes

To brew the tea: Bring about 8-10 ounces of water to a boil. As soon as the water boils, turn off the heat and pour 8 ounces over one teaspoon loose Lapsang Souchong tea (or use one tea bag). Allow to infuse about five minutes, strain, and allow to cool completely.
This will give you more tea than you need for your margarita. Keep it in the fridge and use whenever you want a smoky kick in a cocktail, salad dressing, or sauce. (Try it in BBQ sauce or Red-Eye Gravy!)

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Shrub love at Shubie’s Love Fest on Feb. 7

Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 4.55.21 PMThere isn’t anything at Shubie’s you couldn’t love. But on February 7, just in time for Valentine’s Day, Spiker’s will join in the Shubie’s Love Fest to inspire customers with ideas for February 14 celebrations. After an afternoon of sipping and sampling, you’ll find even more ways to love this trend-setting Marblehead foodie destination.

Stop by to taste our flavorful, all-natural fruit infusions for mixing with cocktails and mocktails, and pick up our new sampler pack featuring four of our most popular flavors. We’ll share tips for how to mix romantic cocktails, elegant mocktails, and delicious salads, sauces, and desserts (including our Sour Cherry Black Velvet Dump Cake) using Spiker’s Shrubs.

Just a few ideas for how to use Spiker’s Shrubs in dishes you’ll love:

  • Splash in champagne or prosecco for a fruity, colorful, fizzy sip.
  • Whip up a chocolate martini with a touch of our new Very Strawberry shrub.
  • Drizzle over a plate of artisan cheese (and boy, does Shubie’s know a thing or two about cheese!).
  • Make a batch of shrub-glazed nuts for a salad or roasted sweet potato.
  • Finish off a pan of filet mignon for two with a pan sauce of shrub, shallots, and red wine.
  • Enjoy a light, alcohol-free spritzer at the end of the evening and get your second wind.

Get details and directions to Shubie’s here.

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Set up a Shrubbuffet for New Year’s Eve cocktails and mocktails

ChampagneShrubCocktail

Looking for a fun and festive addition to your New Year’s Eve menu? While everyone is waiting to ring in the new, you can treat your guests to the new and refreshing combination of Spiker’s Shrubs paired with the Champagne or Prosecco of your choice (or Perrier for a designated driver special). Just set up a bar with the bubbly on ice, and an array of Spiker’s Shrubs. Tie a ribbon around a few tablespoons (use one-half to one tablespoon per glass), and your Shrubbuffet is ready for sipping, sampling, and toasting.

For a true Bellini, choose Spiker’s Peach Rosemary Shrub. Or spin out onto new territory by trying Tuscan Tangerine. We use the entire fruit — peel and all — in our Tangerine Shrub, so the concentrate carries with it not only the delightful citrus taste of tangerine but also a sophisticated bitter nuance from the oils in the peel.

Pineapple Basil, Apple Crisp, Pear Cardamom, and Cranberry Orange Shrub are also great options. Each of these shrub flavors changes your Bellini profile, and gives your guests additional reasons to raise a glass.

[box size=”large”]Make merry with mocktails! Don’t forget the non-drinkers (including designated drivers) at your party. Include chilled bottles of Perrier (our preference) and ginger ale and plenty of festive glasses, and let them enjoy the shrubbuffet too![/box]

Shop locally at these retail destinations.

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Mocktail Monday: The alcohol-free mojito

mocktail mojitoIn an article in the“Off Duty” section of the Wall Street Journal, barman Bryan Dayton pointed out, “It’s not just pregnant women and tea-totalers” who are driving the burgeoning mocktail trend. “It’s people who are health-conscious, who need to work the next day. It’s people ordering nonalcoholic beverages after two drinks because they need to stay sharp at a business dinner.”

Perhaps that’s why more and more people are discovering the versatility of our Spiker’s Shrubs. With their perfect balance of acidity and sweetness, as well as deeply concentrated fruit flavors, shrubs mix beautifully with each other as well as with bitters, tea, and high-end root beers and ginger ales. And because they have fewer calories than flavored syrups, when shrubs are used in a mocktail it is kinder to your waistline. No designated driver needed; no hangover involved.

If you haven’t already had a chance to explore the potential of a “virgin” cocktail made with Spiker’s Shrubs, pick up a bottle or two, crank up the Soda Stream, and start experimenting. The only limit is your imagination. To get you started, here’s how to tweak the ever-popular mojito to create a version that’ll take you to church (and vice-versa).

THE KEY ELEMENTS

For starters, let’s review what’s in a traditional mojito: White rum, fresh lime, fresh mint, and soda. To emulate the flavor notes that are characteristic of a good rum — namely pineapple, molasses, and almonds — our recipe includes a splash of our Spiker’s Pineapple Basil Shrub (which contributes the fruity and sweet elements of the first two items), plus a splash of Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters. (You could also use almond extract, but bitters are — in our opinion — better.)

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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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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.