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Written by Super User

In the July issue’s Taste department, Lori Moffatt gets turned on to shrubs, old-fashioned mixture of fruit, sugar, and vinegar that make great cocktails. (You can also use them to jazz up still or sparkling water.)  She wrote a blog about her experience and also shares this introduction to the idea:

By Lori Moffatt

“Imagine that it’s 1780, and there is no electricity, no railroads, and you’re a locavore because you have to be,” began Austin craft-cocktail guru Bill Norris at a seminar at the recent Austin FOOD & WINE Festival. “You’ve got to figure out a way to preserve your fruit and vegetable crop. You would have canned most of it, and you might have made some of it into wine (or even distilled some of the wine), but you might also have made something called a shrub—a fruit-infused drinking vinegar that you could use to flavor water, kind of like a precursor to soft drinks.”

Most cocktails, Bill explains, are comprised of a liquor plus sweet and sour elements. “Lime and lemon are delicious, but they can get old,” he says. That’s where vinegars come in. “Hugely popular in southeast Asia, drinking vinegars add a complex element to cocktails.”

To make a peach shrub, combine 1 cup chopped peaches with 1 cup sugar; cover and leave on the countertop. The sugar will immediately begin pulling the water from the fruit, making syrup. After two days, strain the solids from the syrup and add ½ cup to 1 cup champagne vinegar. “You want the vinegar to linger like a ghost,” says Bill.

Turns out you can make shrubs from all kinds of fruits and vegetables, and the method is roughly the same: Chop your fruit or vegetable, add an equal amount of sugar, and let the syrup form for about two days. Strain out the solids, and add roughly the same amount of good vinegar as your fruit or vegetables.  Since discovering shrubs, I’ve gone a bit shrub-crazy, and I’ve made peach shrub, ginger shrub, guava shrub, strawberry shrub, mango shrub, and blueberry shrub, using combinations of balsamic vinegar, champagne vinegar, apple-cider vinegar, and specialty vinegars from Con Olio, a shop in Austin whose products are amazing.  Next, I’ll try cucumber and tomato shrubs, which I imagine would taste terrific in a gin-and-tonic or bloody mary. Personally, I like to shake the heck out of my drinks in a cocktail shaker loaded with lots of ice, but you can simply mix the ingredients in a glass full of ice, too.

 

Bill’s Bourbon Blast

  • 1 ½ ounces bourbon
  •  1 ounce ginger liqueur (Domaine de Canton is a good brand)
  •  ½ ounce peach shrub
  • three dashes Angostura bitters

 

Bill’s Bitter Mary

  •  1 ½ ounces white rum
  •  1 ounce Aperol (an Italian aperitif that tastes similar to Campari
  • ½ ounce strawberry shrub.

 

Blueberry Bomb

  • 1½ ounces vodka
  •  1 ounce orange liqueur
  • ½ ounce blueberry shrub

A bit of mint is nice as a garnish and adds a lovely fragrance; drape some across the top of the ice.

 

Pineapple Vinegaroon

 This one is inspired by the Vinegaroon served at Contigo, a restaurant in Austin.

  • 1 ½ ounces tequila (or mescal, my preference)
  • ½ ounce pineapple shrub
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  • ½ ounce Herbsaint (a liqueur, originally used as an absinthe substitue) that adds a slight licorice note

From the July 2013 issue.

                   

More worthy experiences

Lori Moffatt plays hooky—and tourist—for the day

Matt Joyce explores life on Austin’s aorta, where history meets quirky

Jill Lawless’ grade-schooler runs a tight ship. Here’s her kid’s dream day downtown.

(Photo by J. Griffis Smith)

It’s a challenge to write about the place you call home, especially when that city is as multifaceted as Austin, a bustling burg flavored by music, art, and the outdoors. In the end, our Austin story is a staff collaboration: Jill Lawless explores Austin’s kid-friendly enticements, Matt Joyce rediscovers Congress Avenue after returning to town from a nine-year hiatus, and Lori Moffatt embarks on the perfect grownup “staycation” day. We had to leave dozens of worthy experiences on the cutting-room floor, so see those here. Check the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau website  for details on hotels and tours, as well as maps and other information.

In the May 2013 issue of Texas Highways, we offer 12 ideas for enjoying your Best Summer Ever, ranging from biking the new stretch of San Antonio’s River Walk to stargazing in air-conditioned comfort in one of Texas’ many state-of-the-art planetariums. While researching the planetarium aspect, we found a great website, http://www.go-astronomy.com, which features sections on the solar system; constellations; deep sky objects such as nebulas and galaxies; astronomical events like eclipses and meteor showers; advice and information about binoculars, cameras, and telescopes; and a guide to nationwide astronomy clubs, observatories, star parties, and planetariums.

According to the database, planetariums in Texas include:

The Texas Highways Events Calendar is a free, quarterly publication that features hundreds of events happening across the state each season, expanding on the selection offered in Texas Highways magazine.

As Houston’s Hotel Derek completes the final stages of a $6 million renovation of its rooms and public spaces, we’re pleased to announce the details of a Houston getaway package created solely for Texas Highways readers. Here’s the scoop: Beginning on March 1 and continuing through March 30, go to the Hotel Derek’s Facebook page, “like” it, then post a line to the Derek’s wall identifying yourself as a Texas Highways reader who wants to rediscover Houston—and explain (in one sentence) why. Hotel Derek staff will pick a winner, who will receive a two-night weekend stay with breakfast for two, plus complimentary car service to destinations within three miles of the hotel. And if you win, let us know. We’d love to share your experience with other adventuresome readers.

We often turn to the Texas Highways community for their input on the best of Texas travel. Here's a chance for you to sound off on the topics we've been discussing on Facebook and elsewhere.

Spring Break Fix?

Don’t look now, but spring break will be here before you know it. We relish the opportunity to hit the road and get a jump-start on the Texas summer! What are your favorite Texas spring break memories and your “can’t miss” travel activities for the break?

Who Shapes Your Community?

Texas is full of interesting characters that make our state a “whole other country.” Who are the artists, musicians, chefs, and other taste-shapers in your community that set Texas apart from the ordinary?

Travel-Inspiring Views

It’s hard to believe, but Americans reportedly leave hundreds of millions of paid vacation days on the table each year. As we resolve to make the most of our time off in 2013, what are the most beautiful scenery and striking views across Texas that inspire you to get out of the office?

Most Interesting Small Town?

Texas’ small towns are cool for lots of reasons—it could be the people (or lack thereof), the location, the history, the events, or the unique establishments. What do you think is the most interesting small town in Texas, and why?

Special Kind of Quirky?

Texans are internationally known as a unique group of folks. And there are lots of eccentric Texans that add extra flavor to the mix. We’d love to hear about the quirky characters that make your town special, and why?

Your Favorite Small Town?

Playing with a new tablet or smartphone today? Stretch your fingers and social networking with Texas Highways. Here’s a fun question for the TH community: What’s your favorite Texas small town, and why do you love it?

Who Makes a Difference?

Texas is full of difference-makers that shape our communities for the better. In the spirit of the holidays, Texas Highways would like to know the difference-makers in your community that you’re thankful for, and why?

Please complete the form below for a free subscription to the Texas Highways Events Calendar (formerly known as the Texas Events Calendar).

Up Front

Your Texas Highways

What do Texas Highways readers think are the state’s coolest small towns? The answer to that question and other reader favorites will be revealed in the upcoming September special issue. Reader feedback has always shaped the pages of TH, and that will certainly hold true with our redesign, which premieres that month. It’s not too late: Tell us your favorite town (and why) by June 15. And let us know what you’d like to see more (or less) of in your TH anytime.

 In Touch with TH

Send suggestions and recommendations to or Box 141009, Austin, TX 78714-1009. Find us on Facebook and Twitter, too!

 

Trip Tip:

Inside Houston

To contrast with the numerous outdoor activities featured this month, TH Art Director Jane Wu puts the spotlight on venturing inside Houston’s Museum District. The area includes 19 museums, with collections and interests ranging from The John C. Freeman Weather Museum to the Museum of Fine Arts, all within a 1.5-mile radius, a rarity in this sprawling city. Jane, a Houston native, admits “I haven’t been to most of the smaller ones, but hope to explore a few this summer, like the Center for Contemporary Craft.” Jane also suggests checking out the Museum District website for free admission days. Some, such as The Menil Collection, are always free.

 Sneak Peek:

Even More Summer Fun...

Next month, we’ll explore historic Clifton and the bounty of surrounding Bosque County, take a walking tour of downtown San Antonio, and escape to FoxFire Cabins on the Sabinal River. Plus, three locals put their spin on Austin. Summer’s in full swing! 

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