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Mixers, Water, Ice and Glasses

All of the ingredients in a cocktail contribute to the experience.

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Old 08-07-2008, 08:05 AM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Saranac, NY
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Default Shrub

One of my favorite ways to enjoy rum in the summertime is mixed with some homemade raspberry or blackberry shrub. It's very refreshing on a hot summer day. Anyone else enjoy this classic colonial drink??
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Old 08-07-2008, 10:35 AM   #2
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Thanks for bringing up a classic concoction LC. We were in Maine recently and picked a ton of local raspberries. Below is a recipe we used to make Shrub. Everyone in the family loved the sweet/tart flavor it brought to white rum over ice.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

SOUP TO NUTS: Meredith Goad

Raspberry shrub

Copyright © 2006 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
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Staff photo by John Patriquin

Raspberry shrub is "a very, very early beverage," says food historian Sandra Oliver.

A few months ago, an envelope arrived in my mailbox from Happy Marsh, a Yarmouth resident who was cleaning out her files one day when she found an old newspaper clipping she thought I might want.

"I don't know what year it was published," she wrote in an accompanying note, "but since the ad on the back mentions Cine Kodak movie cameras 'that will be in production when the war is over' I assume it was in the 1940s."

The clipping was a column by the famous food writer Clementine Paddleford. The columnist talks about Margaret Chase Smith, the Republican congresswoman from Maine, and how she used the raspberries she grew at home to make tarts and pies.

"But delight to the lady of Maine was the making of her grandmother's raspberry shrub which she served as a symbol of old-time hospitality. Now that Mrs. Smith has succeeded her husband in Congress and Washington is home, she makes shrub there in her kitchenette apartment. But only a dozen bottles this year; shrub dips too deeply into the sugar. A joyous drink is this raspberry nectar."

I was not familiar with raspberry shrub, a sweet raspberry syrup that's mixed with water and ice, but decided to tuck the column away until raspberries were available and try it.

The ingredients, according to Paddleford's column, were simply four quarts of raspberries, one quart of cider vinegar and sugar. Here's the rest of the recipe:

"Clean and pick over berries. Cover with vinegar and let stand four days. Strain. To each cup of juice add one cup of sugar. Boil 15 minutes and bottle when cold. Approximate yield: 5 cups syrup. Serve diluted with three parts of cold water to one part syrup. Fill a tall glass with crushed ice and pour in the perfume. Tingle it, whiff it, sip it - and smile."

I did a little research on the Internet and discovered other variations that called for soaking various quantities of raspberries in vinegar for two days, or no soaking at all. "Shrub," one article informed, is an old Arabic word that means "drink" and is related to "sharba," the word for syrup.

Next I called Sandra Oliver, Maine's well-known food historian. She said raspberry shrub is "a very, very early beverage," and the root word is the same one that gave us "sherbet."

"In Colonial Days, a shrub was your basic punch, and our forebears really liked sweet, sweet, sweet beverages," Oliver said. "They liked sweet wines, they liked sweet liquors, they liked heavily sugared punches. They really loved that stuff."

The Colonists, of course, often added rum to their shrubs.

The Maine senator's recipe called for cold water. I've also seen sparkling water suggested, as well as champagne.

Said Oliver: "Any sparkling wine is nice. Woo hoo."

I asked Oliver about the differences in soaking time.

"It's one of those judgment calls," she said. "I've covered them with vinegar and put them away for two weeks or more. Just look at the berries and when they start looking kind of pale and sickly, that's a good time to strain them out. Usually when the color has all bleached out into the vinegar. They don't spoil because the vinegar doesn't allow that."

My next stop was the farmer's market for raspberries. Buying four quarts would have set me back $56, so I halved the recipe and spent $28.

Now I know why no one makes shrub anymore.

Oliver views shrub as something to do with the extra raspberries you've got left over after you've made all the jam you want for the year, or with raspberries that people give you.

"If you have go out and buy a whole lot of raspberries to make the shrub, you have to really want to do that," she said.

Oliver had told me it wasn't necessary to refrigerate the soaking berries, but mine started drawing fruit flies on the counter. So I popped them in the fridge and forgot about them for four days.

While my berries were soaking, I called Happy Marsh.

She said her own grandmother made raspberry shrub in the summertime.

"She called it raspberry vinegar," Marsh said. "She would make vast quantities of it and then mix it about two parts water to one part of that, and serve it icy cold on hot July and August days. It really was wonderful. I loved it. It's a wonderful sweet and sour combination. And there's something about the vinegar that's very thirst-quenching, and then you've got that lovely raspberry flavor."

When I strained off the vinegar, it was a beautiful ruby color. I added sugar and set it on the stove to boil. Sure enough, the liquid gradually thickened into a deep red syrup.

I mixed up a glass with some sparkling water and took Clementine Paddleford's advice: "Tingle it, whiff it, sip it - and smile."

The taste was both sweet and tart at the same time. I wished the raspberry flavor were stronger, though.

The drink was refreshing and fun to make, but not worth $28 for someone who doesn't grow raspberries.

Sorry, Ms. Paddleford.

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791 - 6332 or at:

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Old 08-07-2008, 11:48 AM   #3
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That's the same recipe that I use, except I dilute the syrup a little more to drink it. I think I use 1-1.5 oz of syrup in an 8 oz glass, then dilute with rum and water, tonic, or club soda.
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Old 08-07-2008, 12:19 PM   #4
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We use about the same amount of syrup. We top off the rum/syrup combo with a splash of club soda and a slice of lime.
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