It’s time for #DRINKTHESUMMER 2016! To honor the end of the summer season, Sherrie Castellano of the gorgeous plant-based food blog With Food + Love has organized another of her virtual cocktail parties. Anyone who wanted to join was welcome to participate and it sounded like too much fun to pass up. Today, you’ll find over 50+ food bloggers posting their farewell to summer with their own spin on summer drinks. Toast and imbibe away this season with these original recipes especially created for #DRINKTHESUMMER. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re a cocktail lover or teetotaler. For me, this was a chance to introduce my tastebuds to something new (to me). I welcomed shrub making into my life! These Sparkling Plumcot and Purple Basil Shrubs.
Shrubs, also known as drinking vinegars, have a long history dating back to the 17th and 18th century England. They’re comprised of an equal ratio of fruit (or vegetables), sugar, and vinegar. That’s it. You can play around with different fruits, vegetables, types of sugar, and the different varieties of vinegar. The combinations are never ending. The result is the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity and when combined with sparkling water it tastes spectacular. Super simple to mix together, but it does require a little patience. Shrubs need to sit for a couple of days to infuse their fruit flavor and then for about a week more once you mix in the vinegar. Hence the patience. Plenty of syrup comes from one batch, so you won’t be needing to sit around waiting for shrubs after the initial wait. You could make several different flavored batches and then enjoy them for months to come.
To be 100% honest, before working on this recipe I wasn’t a shrub fan. Friends have graciously shared sips of their drinks with me and I just couldn’t stomach it. The mouth-watering fruit flavor would at first delight and then make me cringe when the acidity of the vinegar would come around. It was too strong. However, after coming across this article a few weeks ago my interest was peaked. If my only complaint about shrubs was that they were too “vinegary” in flavor, then what if I just cut back on the vinegar? There is a classic ratio of 1:1:1 of fruit, sugar, and vinegar to follow when making shrubs, but hey, sue me. That ratio’s too strong for my taste buds. This might mean that this recipe is not a traditional shrub to the shrub purists, but if you’re turned off from shrubs for the same reasons I was then give this a go. It’s refreshing, crisp, sweet, and tart without being overpowering in flavor. Happy end of summer!
This recipe calls for red plumcots, also known as pluots, that are currently in season. Feel free to substitute any plum variety that you prefer or can find. This summer I discovered this sparkling water and it’s now my favorite go-to bubbly. It has a very minimal mineral flavor, is crisply effervescent, and allows the syrup to shine through. If you love traditional shrubs then by all means bump up the vinegar content.
Check out the entire list of food bloggers participating in this year’s #DRINKTHESUMMER after the recipe!
Sparkling Plumcot and Purple Basil Shrubs
Makes 20 ounces (567g)
16 oz (455g) red plumcots, pitted and chopped (5 – 6 plumcots)
10 1/2 oz (297g) sugar
3 1/2 oz (99g) brown sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
10 purple basil leaves
2 oz (57g) white wine vinegar
Sparkling water of choice
Purple basil leaves, for garnish
Red plumcots, thinly sliced, for garnish
In a large non-reactive bowl, combine chopped plumcots, sugar, brown sugar, sea salt, and basil leaves. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow fruit to macerate on kitchen counter top, at room temperature, for two days. Stir mixture once each day to help distribute and dissolve the sugar.
After two days, strain the mixture into a large bowl; pressing the solids to extract as much plumcot syrup as possible. Discard the solids. Whisk in white wine vinegar. If you prefer a sharper tasting shrub, add more vinegar to taste.
Pour plumcot and purple basil shrub syrup into a clean jar and seal tightly with a lid. Transfer to the refrigerator and allow the flavors to meld for 5 – 7 days. Shake well before using. Syrup will keep for a few months in the refrigerator, but if it becomes slimy or bubbly before then be sure to throw it out.
When ready to serve, add two tablespoons of shrub syrup and ice to a glass. Top with six ounces of sparkling water. Add a couple of thin slices of plumcots and a small sprig of purple basil leaves for garnish.
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