In the world of mixology and beverages, a “shrub” is a concentrated infusion made from whole fruit, vinegar, and cane sugar using a centuries-old maceration technique that’s slow and natural. These three simple ingredients, given enough time to get acquainted, meld into something fruity, tart yet sweet, and delicious.
The formula originated hundreds of years ago when early American settlers wanted to preserve autumn fruit after a bountiful harvest. Although their primary focus was the fruit, they discovered that maceration produced an intensely flavored liquid which was fabulous as an addition to spirits, tea, and water.
Today, shrubs are getting new life and appreciation from folks who want a break from super-sweet beverages and fake ingredients. Just a small amount of shrub – usually an ounce – is all you need to add a fresh pop of natural flavor to your favorite cocktail, mocktail, artisan soda, or culinary creation.
You’ll find all kinds of recipes for shrubs if you search online. And although there is a faster, cheaper way to make them, Spiker’s takes the road less traveled because we believe it leads to a brighter, fresher, and higher quality product.
We don’t use distilled vinegar or pre-processed ingredients (cheap) in our shrubs. And we don’t cook our fruit because this results in a shrub that tastes more like liquid jelly.
Also, we don’t call something a shrub just because it has sugar and vinegar in it. To qualify as one of Spiker’s shrubs, the whole fruit component is essential. And it has to have a zingy tang. If you sample a “shrub” that is syrupy sweet, it isn’t a shrub.
Amesbury, Massachusetts is a special corner of New England, surrounded by orchards and farms and a supportive community fueled by common values of sustainability and local production. It has been the perfect place to plant our shrub business.
All Spiker’s products are prepared, macerated, and bottled in the commercial facilities of Kitchen Local. Every batch takes a minimum of three weeks to mature. New flavors are always in development depending on what is fresh and in season. Whenever possible, we source our ingredients from local farms and businesses.
Named in honor of my grandfather John Spiker (a coal miner from West Virginia), our small-batch enterprise began in 2013 when I took a vacation from wine and wanted an alcohol-free, natural, and grown-up alternative to soft drinks. What started out as an experiment turned into a passion and a family-owned business. Parties and neighborhood gatherings soon became a testing ground for cocktail concoctions, mocktail recipes, and culinary experimentation.
In early 2014, we began production of Spiker’s Shrubs for wholesale and retail trade and have embraced the thrill and challenge of being a small-batch producer in a world of big boxes and even bigger budgets.
We hope you’ll explore our website to learn about our growing base of retailers who have put Spiker’s Shrubs on their shelves for your sipping pleasure. Or take advantage of online shopping if you aren’t currently near a retail source. And don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have a recipe to share or a suggestion for a new shrub flavor. It might just end up with your name on it!
Kate Spiker Broughton • Tess Broughton Brady • & Family | Amesbury MA