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Shrubs—those tangy mixtures made from a combination of vinegar, sugar and fruits—are quickly becoming a favorite ingredient of bartenders and drinkmakers looking for a flavorful alcohol-free ingredient. Though they’re typically simple to make from scratch (see our Sept/Oct 2014 issue for recipes), sometimes it’s more tempting to buy one that’s already ready to mix. That’s where store-bought shrubs swoop in and save the day. Over the past few years, a number of companies have emerged, selling high-quality shrubs. Here are five of our favorites.
Inna Quince Shrub, $15 for 12 oz.
This organic shrub from Oakland-based jam company INNA is a floral and tangy. We love its simplicity—just quince, sugar and apple cider vinegar. Try it with soda or in your favorite fall cocktail.
Pok Pok Som, $18 for 16 oz.
From Portland’s (and now NYC’s) Pok Pok empire comes a bottled version of their beloved in-house drinking vinegar. Flavors run the gamut from summery raspberry to the more exotic tamarind and the perfectly-Pok Pok Thai basil, which we think would be perfect splashed into your late-summer G&T.
Shrub & Co., prices start at $20 for 16 oz.
Straightforward offerings like a ginger shrub or a sweetly-tart wildflower honey shrub provide newbies a gentle intro to the world of vinegar drinks, but Shrub & Co.’s more unusual bottlings are what we really get excited about. Try their bright-red Cranberry and Douglas Fir shrub, which features foraged Douglas Fir needles and organic cranberries from Massachusetts.
Liber & Co. Texas Grapefruit Shrub, $19 for 17 oz.
Deeply ruby red and sweet as can be, Texas’ Rio Star grapefruits are the best of the best. Liber & Co. highlights their unique juiciness in this very cocktail-friendly shrub with the use of coconut vinegar, cane sugar and a bit of allspice.
Genki-su Drinking Vinegars (pictured)
Inspired by a family recipe for drinking vinegar originally brought over from Okinawa, Japan, Portland-based Genki-su makes light and flavorful vinegars intended to be as much a health tonic as a flavoring agent. Working exclusively with coconut vinegar, they make some of the most interesting and unusual flavors out there—we’re particularly enamored of their clean, herbal shiso sipping vinegar as well as the citrusy yuzu.