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Our May/June 2012 issue highlights 50 of our favorite Drinks of the Moment, and among our picks are drinking vinegars. A sharp, tangy infusion of fruit, vinegar and sugar, drinking vinegars (aka shrubs) can trace their roots back to American colonial days, though regions across the globe from the Middle East to Asia have all at one point offered their own interpretations. With a snap of fresh fruit flavor, drinking vinegars offer the ultimate thirst-quenching refreshment, and they’re versatile, adding a tanginess to alcohol-free sodas and cocktails. The category hit an all-time high in popularity last summer when award-winning chef Andy Ricker released Pok Pok’s line of Som drinking vinegars, but they’re also surprisingly simple to whip up at home, and with ingredients you probably already have on hand. Some methods call for cooking a syrup, but we like how the freshness of fruit stays in the forefront with the following steep-and-refrigerate method.
2 cups fresh, whole berries (frozen also works)
2 cups vinegar (we like using Champagne or apple cider vinegar, though distilled white vinegar may be substituted in a pinch)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, or more, to taste
Large glass jar with lid
Clean glass bottle
Combine the fruit and vinegar in a large jar, tightly screw on the lid and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Let infuse for one week at room temperature, shaking daily. Strain the juice through a double layer of cheesecloth and funnel into a clean glass bottle. Add sugar and shake to combine. Refrigerate for one week before using, shaking daily until sugar has fully dissolved.
To dilute in a drink, add one ounce (or more, depending on taste) to five ounces of soda water. Serve over ice.
Following the method outlined above, you can experiment with these other flavor combinations:
Blackberry + fresh thyme
Cucumber + mint + honey
Cherry + vanilla bean + maple syrup
Ginger + Demerara sugar
Apple + agave
Strawberry + basil
Click here for a pineapple-rosemary shrub recipe and a cocktail that puts it to delicious use.