If you’ve ever seen “shrub” listed in the recipe for a drink or cocktail and thought, “Isn’t a shrub a plant?” you’re not alone. A shrub is also a delicious, healthy concoction made from vinegar, fruit juice and sugar that is currently enjoying popularity everywhere from bar menus to grocery stores.
According to the website behindthebar.com, “shrub” comes from the Arabic word “sharab” meaning “to drink,” and originated in colonial America. It was created from fruit or juice, sugar and vinegar, then mixed with water and served over ice as a refreshing drink. Locally, Cascade Shrub Farm produces an array of shrubs from Washington apples, Skagit Valley and Whatcom County fruits and herbs and Hawaiian sugar and honey. Not only are these creations remarkably refreshing, they are beneficial to your health. Raw apple cider vinegar, one of the main ingredients, has many benefits including aiding digestive health, providing energy, strengthening the immune system, and alleviating muscle cramps, to name a few.
Josh and Tomo Kramer, the creators of Bellingham-based Cascade Shrub Farm and Maui Shrub Farm, founded their company in 2016 when they were living in Maui, practicing massage. They were visiting Tomo’s mother, who is Japanese, when Josh drank a vinegar and blueberry preserve she created, he thought it was just about the most refreshing thing he had ever tasted. “It was super flavorful with the berries, plus the zing of vinegar,” Josh recalls. The Kramers base their recipe off this original homemade drink. In the beginning it was just Maui Shrub Farm. After having a son and wanting to return to his roots, the two relocated to Bellingham and added Cascade Shrub Farm.
Shrubs are versatile, making it easy to get a daily dose of apple cider vinegar. It’s a concentrated liquid, so mixing a few tablespoons with sparkling water produces a lovely, bubbly beverage. The Kramers routinely serve alcohol-free shrub drinks to their son, because it’s a great alternative to sugary sodas. Eric Bemis, general manager and bartender at Chuckanut Manor Seafood & Grill on Chuckanut Drive in Bow makes his own shrubs and loves using them in his cocktails. “The possibilities are endless, and they add that tang for sour/sweet balance that you usually have to get through citrus,” he says.
The next time you’re having a drink with friends and someone asks you, “What the heck is a shrub?” you’ll have all the knowledge to provide the answer. Cascade Shrub Farm products can be found in Skagit Valley food co-ops in Mount Vernon and Anacortes, and at Community Food Co-op stores in Bellingham, along with other markets and local restaurants.
CASCADE SHRUB FARM RECIPES
In a pint glass with ice, add:
2 oz. vodka
1 oz. Cascade Shrub Farm Raspberry Citrus Shrub
• Top with sparkling water and garnish with lime.
Start with a pint glass of ice. Add:
½ oz. Maui Shrub Farm Ginger and Hawaiian Chili Shrub
½ oz. Maui Shrub Farm Hibiscus and Orange Shrub
• Top with sparkling water and stir gently
SHRUB SALAD DRESSING
2 tsp. shrub of choice (try hibiscus and orange)
1 tbsp. Maui Olive Co. Extra Virgin Olive oil
¼ tsp. soy sauce to taste
• Mix it up, pour in on, eat yummy salad.
CHUCKANUT MANOR RECIPE
Glass: Collins, rimmed with kosher salt
2 oz. Reposado tequila
1½ oz. strawberry cucumber shrub Finn River Habanero cider
• Fill glass with ice. Slide in 2 slices of cucumber. Add tequila & shrub, then fill with cider.
• Garnish with mint tip and split strawberry.
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