“We want… a shrubbery!” If you’re a Monty Python fan you’ll recognize that line of dialogue from “The Holy Grail”. However, the kind of shrub I’m talking about today is an altogether better tasting kind of shrub. Tait Farms shrubs come in eight flavors. The main ingredients used in them are organic and non-organic fruit vinegars, juices, ciders, organic cane sugar, honey and spices.
Shrubs are colonial era fruit flavored concentrates that when added to water make refreshing thirst quenchers. Why shrub? The word comes from the arabic “sharab” which means to drink and drinks are what Good Spirits News is all about.
So, how does one use a shrub in a cocktail? Simple. Think of it as your sweet & sour mix or a non-alcoholic liqueur (there’s a conundrum!). The ratio between sugar and vinegar make them perfect for experimentation. Each bottle comes with a mini booklet of recipes, but I know most of my readers will be more interested in creating their own concoctions.
NOTE: The tasting formula I used is 1 part shrub to 8 parts house-made sparkling water.
Cherry: A deep orange-red color. The nose has a wonderful baked cherry pie scent with a slight vinegar overtone. Very fruity on the palate with a deep rich and real cherry taste. The flavor bursts in your mouth with a tart sweetness quite unlike Cherry Heering or Maraschino Liqueur. This would work well with bourbons or ryes. GSN Grade: A
Ginger: A golden yellow color. The vinegar seems to overpower the ginger scent on the nose. The ginger itself smells fresh, but not particularly spicy. The vinegar in this one seems to be in the forefront, with the ginger being more subtle. Not much heat left on the palate after tasting. I’m thinking that this would be a nice addition to Tiki style drinks, or something rum based. GSN Grade: B
Raspberry: A dark reddish purple. The vinegar and raspberry work hand in glove on the nose. Think of raspberry vinaigrette dressing. The taste is phenomenal. Really a standout work of culinary art. This would be fantastic in a kir or champagne based cocktail. Also, this would be excellent in a wheat beer to create a faux lambic style beer. GSN Grade: A+
Cranberry: A pinkish red. Oddly enough, the vinegar in this one is fairly subtle. The nose reminded me of canned cranberry sauce, but again the overall scent is subdued. The cranberry flavor is really nice in this. Try this in a Cosmopolitan, but make sure to adjust the ratio to account for the desired level of sweetness. I’m also thinking this might be an interesting addition in a Gin & Tonic. GSN Grade A-
Lemon: A golden yellow. I imagined it would have a bright, tart citrus nose; but it came through in a lemony peel kind of way, as opposed to juice. The taste for me, unfortunately, was weak and didn’t seem to pair well with the vinegar. It left a lasting lemon taste in my mouth, almost like a lemon meringue pie; just not as layered as I had hoped. This would add a bit more character to simple drinks like a Daiquiri or even just mixed with a silver rum. GSN Grade: B
Strawberry: A dark reddish brown. As with the raspberry shrub, the strawberries and vinegar work extremely well together here. The nose is acidic and fruity with a load of strawberry up front. The tartness of the vinegar keeps it from seeming overly sweet. If your guests like White Zinfandel wine, then they will love this when added to sparkling water. Oddly enough, the strawberry flavor isn’t as in your face as I was expecting. I like it, but it seems overshadowed by the sweetness of the sugar. Try this with Prosecco or a dry white wine. GSN Grade: B
Apple: A golden brown with a lot of floating dark particulates. The ingredients listed include “honey and spices”, so I’m thinking that this must be what I saw floating in the bottle. The nose doesn’t particularly smell of apples despite the ingredients including both cider and apple juice concentrate in the mix. Instead I got a kind of dark vinegar smell. Again, not bad, just not what I was expecting. The flavor is much like apple juice with a hint of vinegar in the forefront. I don’t detect much in the way of honey & spice, but overall it is quite balanced. This would be great in a Hot Toddy instead of using a sugar cube or simple syrup, just be aware that unless you fine strain the shrub, you will be left with residue in the glass. GSN Grade: B
Lime: A light greenish-yellow color. The lime scent is tasty and pushes ahead of the vinegar on the nose. In flavor, the lime and vinegar are a perfect pair here and balance each other out amazingly well. The lime juice tastes fresh and much better than what you find in Rose’s lime juice. In fact, throw away that bottle of Rose’s and stock up on this! This is a clear winner and will make a great addition to Gimlets, Mojitos, Daiquiris, or used with a silver Tequila or Mezcal. GSN Grade: A+
Tait Farm Foods are located in Pennsylvania, and their products can be ordered online through their website at: