Explosive Shrub Punch

For the festive season, a shrub can be used as a base for a nonalcoholic punch or as a syrup base for cocktails.

Think holiday flavors and colors: cranberries and orange juice; apples, pomegranate juice, citrus peel, and ginger; or go deep with frozen blueberries and green grapes. 

There are at least two ways to make the syrup: 

1) Macerate the fruit with sugar (or the sweetener of your choice) and let it sit to help the natural sugars thicken.

2) Or put your fruit, juice and other ingredients into a saucepan, combined with half as much sugar (two cups of fruit and ginger to one cup sugar, for example). Simmer until thickened, and then pour through a fine strainer, pressing the solids to squeeze out all the syrup. 

Measure—by cup or by eye—how much syrup you have. Add that same amount vinegar. Try apple cider vinegar with apples, white balsamic or unsweetened lemon juice with the blueberries, red wine vinegar with the cranberries and orange. Mix. Taste.  Feel the surprise of your shrub!


Now, for the punch: mix equal parts shrub and seltzer or bubbly water in a big beautiful bowl. Add lemon slices and other garnishes. Serve.



What’s a Shrub?

A popular drink in olden days, shrubs have been making a comeback at trendy restaurants. To make the drink, fruits and other ingredients are either macerated with sugar or steeped over low heat to make syrup. After straining, an equal amount of vinegar or acidic juice (lemon or lime, for example) is added. That potent mixture, in turn, is combined with seltzer, mineral water, gin, bourbon, or rum. 

A Gorgeous Garnish

Fill small muffin tin compartments with a fruit that complements your shrub. Pour a mixture of half shrub/half water to cover. Freeze. Use these drinkable decorations to keep your punch cold.