Tag Archives: drinking vinegar

spiced pineapple shrub sparklers with black tea + coconut | “tiki on the wagon” | scenes from #bossbabefestMSP

It’s pretty much a “yes” for me, if someone invites me over for a cocktail party, but when a group of over 50 bloggers gets together to celebrate the peak of summer and toast its bounty, I’m ALL IN. This is year two of #DRINKTHESUMMER, a virtual sipping soirée, hosting by Sherrie of With Food + Love, and I’m bringing a Tiki-inspired, sparkling pineapple shrub mocktail to the party.

Even though I’ve spied a few, fallen yellow leaves in the backyard and have been enjoying the recent cooler mornings, I’m holding onto summer, as much as I possibly can. Especially the seasonal cocktails, fruit-packed popsicles, and salads on repeat. Our tomatoes are chiming in with me, since many of them on the vine are still green. It seems we’re all trying to soak up a little extra sunshine and warmth.

I’ll take all that I can get.

spiced pineapple shrub sparklers with black tea + coconut | holly & flora #mocktails #shrubs spiced pineapple shrub sparklers with black tea + coconut | holly & flora #mocktails #shrubsLast week, I led my first cocktail workshop at my favorite kitchenware shop here in Denver, Hazel & Dewey. I was excitedly nervous, and, of course, had a ton of last-minute, loose ends to tie the day-of, but it went well and actually ended up selling out at 20 attendees! My sister-in-law showed up with an entire pack of her girlfriends, and a couple of my fellow blogger friends came out for the night, as well.

The hit of the night was the Pimm’s Cup we all made with seasonal fruit shrubs. Most of the attendees hadn’t tasted a shrub before, so it was an eye-opening experience for them to try these tart, concentrated, fruit-based “drinking vinegars.” I’ve talked about shrubs here on the site before, so if you need an introduction to one of my favorite cocktail additions, this post is a great place to start.

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honeydew, shiso + kiwi sake cocktails | low abv is a good thing

Low ABV cocktails. They’re definitely a thing. I’ve even spotted drink lists with entire sections dedicated to highlighting these lower-in-alcohol tipples. My former college self would most likely have scoffed at ordering a cocktail intentionally made with less alcohol, but at this point in my life, I’m more into sessionable, summer sippers – cocktails that don’t knock you on your face after just one.

This is where I’ve loved mixing either wine or vermouth or sake in my cocktails. Each of those components brings unique flavors and textures to a drink, and they are relatively low in alcohol, by volume. This particular cocktail tastes more like a tropical juice drink than a boozy cocktail. There’s just enough gin to add some complexity and a slight kick, but there’s plenty of muddled kiwi and honeydew to keep you hydrated.

Because summer.honeydew + kiwi sake cocktails with shiso drinking vinegar | holly & flora honeydew + kiwi sake cocktails with shiso drinking vinegar | holly & flora honeydew + kiwi sake cocktails with shiso drinking vinegar | holly & flora

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pimm’s cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub

You know those blogs that actually inspire you? To do more, to attempt more, to think outside your norm? I can’t say when exactly I started following Sherrie Castellano‘s colorful, plant-based blog, With Food & Love, but I can definitely say that I was immediately smitten. Sherrie is a certified health coach, focusing on a plant-based diet, and has the most engaging and vibrant IG account. Sherrie, along with Renée Byrd of Will Frolic for Food, put together the most superb summer cocktail round-up, #DRINKTHESUMMER, highlighting summer’s in-season flavors with innovative twists.

I’m super stoked to be a part of this drink-driven mayhem and talk about how Pimm’s happily takes up so much of my summer. Let’s raise a glass, soak it all in, and drink the summer.

pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora

I’m leading this post with some serious gratitude. As I sit down to type this post, my fingers feel heavy, and my back aches from a long shift. I take a deep sigh, and all that immediately comes to mind are the stressful matters: the to-dos, the deadlines, the hectic scenes throughout my workday, or that impatient guest who yelled at me, demanding a last-minute table. I find myself so tempted to quickly write out the negative and expound upon the pressing matters. I curl my fingers into a fist. Sometimes, you just need a release, you know?

pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora

Instead, I pour myself a glass of rosé and lightly pet my tabby cat, who gracefully jumps onto my mouse pad.

Tonight, after a particularly stressful evening, I am resisting the urge for a negative slant and writing about the flip-side. There is always something beautiful happening, something exciting to report, something that brings a smile. I think that everyone  who has worked, in some capacity, within the restaurant or hospitality business can relate to the heaviness that frequently ensues. Whatever your role, you’re always in character, making people happy and giving them the best dose of hospitality that you can, even when you feel like crap.

I seriously perform my best, however, when my “reservoir” is full. When I take the time to breathe, spend time with my loved ones, get my fingers into the garden soil, or squeeze in a soak in the tub, I am a better person to everyone around me. Steve and I took a day off together this past week to recharge, let go of our obligations, and celebrate the wedding of two of our dearest friends, Erin and John.

pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora

Earlier this evening, despite the madness of a 45-minute wait, an unexpected rainstorm that drove guests indoors, and an oversold reservation book, I pulled strength and peace from that reservoir within, which I had filled earlier during the week.

Erin and John said their wedding vows at the beautiful Lyons Farmette, along the Front Range, here in Colorado. The sun shone through puffy, white clouds, and the chickens and goats were roaming free, singing along with the chorus the one-acre farm had already begun. I felt so at home with their small group of loved ones. We played corn-hole, attempted life-sized Jenga, strolled through a verdant garden, sat by a mountain stream, and built a late-afternoon bonfire.

Love was in the air; it always is. Life is good. It’s what you make it out to be. There are good times, so-so times, and terrible times that you’d like to forget. I’m choosing to focus on the positive and let those accompanying feelings dictate my thought-life. Tomorrow is my day off, and I’m setting aside time too see a good friend {that’s you, Batya!} and taking advantage of the life within my garden. Cucumbers are abundant, mint is going crazy, and I have a full bottle of Pimm’s No. 1 liqueur beckoning me. I know what to do.

Now, ’bout that cocktail.

pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora

If you’re new to Pimm’s No. 1, it’s a gin-based liqueur with notes of spices and citrus. It’s great on the rocks with lemonade or ginger ale, but it’s stellar with berries, cucumbers and citrus slices. You really can’t mess up a Pimm’s cocktail. Let me know if you have, and I’ll fix this post and warn the others what not to do. 😉

I’d heard about Pimm’s, but I’d never tried a Pimm’s cocktail, until I visited Scotland a few years ago. A new friend ordered me a “Pimm’s Cup” at a small, stonewalled pub, and I figured I’d give it a try. It was pretty much summer-in-a-glass. The traditional version calls for a simple combination of Pimm’s and lemonade, along with some mint, orange slices, strawberries, and cucumbers. For my version, I perpetuated the tart citrus-y component but added the depth of summer blackberries and the bright notes from mint and fresh strawberries. Pimm’s even makes a limited edition Blackberry & Elderflower version, so they’re already onto this flavor combination.

If I’ve tempted you already, I’m going to hit you with the bad news: you’ll have to wait a week to enjoy this cocktail. But it will be completely worth your time. One of the best parts of this cocktail is the tart and refreshing addition of a shrub or drinking vinegar. Read this post I wrote about shrubs earlier this year, if you’re thirsty for more information on its origins and its overall likeability.

pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora


pimm’s cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub


  • 1 1/2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1 liqueur
  • 1 ounce blackberry + lemon zest shrub {see recipe below}
  • 1/2 ounce Solerno blood orange liqueur
  • 3-4 ounces ginger ale, to taste {I used Q Ginger}
  • 2 strawberries, quartered
  • 2 cucumber slices, plus additional slices or spears for garnish
  • 6 mint leaves, plus one mint sprig for garnish
  • 2-3 lemon wheels
  • 1 sprig tarragon
  1. Fill a tall, Pilsner-style glass with ice. Set aside.
  2. In a mixing tin, muddle the cucumber slices and mint leaves well.
  3. Add ice, Pimm’s No. 1 liqueur, blackberry + lemon zest shrub, and Solerno blood orange liqueur.
  4. Shake vigorously for a solid ten seconds and strain into the iced glass.
  5. Garnish with the quartered strawberries, cucumber slices or spears, mint sprig, lemon wheels, and tarragon sprig.
  6. Finish with 3-4 ounces of a zesty ginger ale.
  • This recipe yields one cocktail.
  • If you don’t have a Pilsner-style glass, just use a taller glass, so you have enough room for the ginger ale and the multiple garnishes. I recently broke my last set of Pilsner glasses, so I used a stemless wine glass in a pinch. Hey, it tastes the same, right?
  • Look for a zesty ginger ale that packs a spicy bite. I really like Q’s ginger ale for this reason. Avoid an overly sugary style.

IMG_8493 pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora

I made my blackberry shrub about a week ago, so it was ready to drink today. Shrubs are basically a tart, refreshing, vinegar-based combination of fruit {or vegetables} and sugar. I keep some sort of shrub in my refrigerator at all times. They’re the perfect addition to soda water, and they add both tart and sweet components to cocktails in one sweep. This particular recipe is ace, if it’s your first attempt.


blackberry + lemon zest shrub


  • 1 1/2 cups blackberries
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, muddle the blackberries, along with the lemon zest and cane sugar, being sure to crush the blackberries and express as much of the juice as you can.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for 24 hours, stirring the mixture, when you think about it.
  3. Pour the mixture through a chinois or fine-mesh strainer into a small bowl, pressing the berries to squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
  4. Add the apple cider vinegar to the blackberry mixture, whisking until any undissolved sugar is incorporated.
  5. Pour the vinegar mixture into a clean mason jar, cover with a lid, and store it in the refrigerator for a week, so that the flavors integrate. If you think about it, shake the mixture occasionally.
  • Compost the blackberry solids or use them as a topping for a small tart or a delicious addition to yogurt and granola.
  • You may substitute lime zest, if you don’t have lemons on hand, but I really prefer how the tart lemons play with the notes in the Pimm’s No.1.
  • If you have a lot of mint at your fingertips, add a few leaves to the mixture of blackberries, zest, and sugar, muddling well. It will take your cocktails to another level with the added depth.
  • Always use organic berries and citrus, since their skins absorb chemicals so easily. You don’t want those in your cocktails.

pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora pimm's cup with blackberry + lemon zest shrub | holly & flora

So, how popular is Pimm’s in your bar cart? Is this your first taste? If it’s not your summer staple already, give this recipe a go. It’s not too heavy on the alcohol, either. Feel free to swap out my garnish suggestions with whatever is blooming or seasonal in your garden. I love adding rhubarb, lemon, borage, or raspberries to my Pimm’s cocktails. Why not a raspberry shrub? Just substitute the blackberries with whatever berries you have in your fridge or in your garden.

Cheers to a week of filling up your reservoir, to seeking out the brilliant and positive, to focusing on the good that’s out there, and to making time for friends.

XO,

Jayme

Oh! And here are the other awesome and inspiring cocktails within Sherrie and Renée’s blogtastic #DRINKTHESUMMER roundup. You’re thirsty. I’m thirsty. We’re both dying to try a few of these very soon. There’s something here for everyone, whether you want/need a little booze in your life or not. Cheers!


With Food + Love | Fresh Heirloom Bloody Marys with Old Bay and Spicy Pickles

Will Frolic for Food | The Sugar Hollow: Watermelon Gin Cocktail with Cardamom and Lime

Kale & Caramel | Sweet Coconut Slushie with Spiced Agua Fresca de Jamaica

Hummingbird High | Thyme Lemonade

Brooklyn Supper | Bloody Maria Cocktails

Cake Over Steak | Blackberry Bourbon Cocktail

Loves Food, Loves to Eat | Coconut Nectarine White Wine Spritzers

Dunk & Crumble | Ginger Peach Whiskey Smash

Tasty Yummies | When Figs Fly: Spiced Rum Fig Kombucha Cocktail

Feed Me Phoebe | Pimm’s Cup Cocktail with Fresh Ginger, Lime and Tarragon

Earthy Feast | Strawberry, Basil and Pink Peppercorn Negroni

Ginger & Toasted Sesame | Blackberry Peach Margarita with Spicy Salt

O&O Eats | The Long Hope: a Honeydew Cucumber Gin Cocktail

my name is yeh | Nutella Egg Cream

Faring Well | Sparkling Melon Coolers with Muddled Raspberries and Mint

Beard and Bonnet | Pineapple and Cilantro Moscow Mule

The Pancake Princess | Strawberry Balsamic Shrubs

Edible Perspective | Rosé Slushies

Vegetarian ‘Ventures | Sparkling Peppered Plum Blush

The Broken Bread | Blackberry, Cucumber and Mint Gin Spritzer

Tending the Table | Plum Spritzer with Ginger and Kafir Lime

Appeasing a Food Geek | Sugar Plum Margarita

She Eats | Fizzy Lime and Blackberry Shrub

holly & flora | Pimm’s Cup with Blackberry and Lemon Zest Shrub

Vigor and Sage | Peachy Tomato Basil Gin and Tonic

The Pig & Quill | Raspberry Basil Gingerade Fizz

Hungry Girl por Vida | Peanut Butter and Berry Smoothie

A Brown Table | Fig and Bourbon Summer Smash

The Clever Carrot | 5 Minute White Peach Margaritas

Cookie and Kate | Watermelon Sangria

le jus d’orange | Peach Yogurt Soju and Ginger Plum Kombucha Cocktail

Chocolate + Marrow | Raspberry Thyme Smash

The Bojon Gourmet | Basil Pluot Pimm’s Cup

Snixy Kitchen | Sparkling Asian Pear and Mint Iced Tea

what’s cooking good looking | Watermelon Basil Colada

i am a food blog | Thyme Gin and Tonics

Fix Feast Flair | Peachy Kentucky Mules


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rhubarb + strawberry shrub mojito | the reset button

It’s amazing what a new job situation will do to your life. There is always a transition. To navigate that transitional time well, we are encouraged to slow down, settle into the newer routine, make room for exercise, focus on our breath, and keep calm and eat, drink, or do something to balance it all out.

It is so much easier said than actually done.

The first four months of this year were a financially stressful time for me. I was only working one evening each week at the restaurant, and my paid freelance jobs had stalled. In late April, I decided to take on another job, buying wine and spirits for a small wine shop here in town. The pay wasn’t great, but I kept my eyes on the promised opportunities: conducting wine-based trips, maintaining a website, and curating their social media.

It’s quite amusing how untimely life can be {or timely, perhaps}. As soon as I made that commitment to become a wine buyer, within just a couple of weeks, I was offered a raise and more shifts at the restaurant. It was an offer I couldn’t decline. Within a week, I was slammed with some writing and photography assignments. Looking back at this crazy time, I am actually shaking my head and laughing. I had to make one of the toughest decisions this year. I had to make a choice, and that choice required me to go back on my word.

I turned in my notice to the shop. I felt like absolute crap. Had I known what was coming my way only two weeks in advance, I would never have accepted that new job.

strawberry rhubarb shrub mojito | holly & flora

I truly wanted to just stop working at the wine shop and pretend this all hadn’t happened. Instead, I gave them proper notice, while simultaneously jumping into my new role at the restaurant. I don’t even remember much of late April, and May was a complete blur. There were a few 60-hour work weeks, copious amounts of tears, second helpings of wine, and nights where I fell asleep on my desk.

My sleep schedule was so wrecked that I was able to call my mom on two occasions, while she was getting ready for work at 5:30 in the morning. She lives in Florida, so she is two hours ahead of me. I hadn’t gone to bed yet. It was 3:30 my time, and I had to be at work at 8:00. I was breaking down. Forget about those deep breaths or proper exercise or healthy eating or, while we’re at it, a healthy relationship with your significant other.

strawberry rhubarb shrub mojito | holly & flora

There is a silver lining to this story. I promise.

Although I’m still recovering from the exhaustion from the last two months’ events, I am proud of myself that I persevered. I didn’t call in sick, I gave myself grace for not keeping the house clean, and I reinforced bridges that I could have potentially burned. I even capped off that whirlwind of craziness by successfully {more like miraculously!} finishing my first half-marathon. It was a rite of passage and really let me know that I’m more powerful than I give myself credit. We are all more powerful than we give ourselves credit.

I know all of us have piled on too much at once, whether or not we foresaw the outcome. How have you recovered? What tips to you have for getting the balance just right? I’m sure we can all benefit from further discussion.

rhubarb strawberry shrub mojito | holly & flora rhubarb strawberry shrub mojito | holly & flora rhubarb strawberry shrub mojito

I am happy to create more time to relax, get back to enjoying this blog, and run a little more. I am especially giving more attention to simply relaxing. My favorite moment last week was lying down in the back yard and staring up at the clouds. No phone. No active thinking. Just drifting.

And more time for cocktails.

Back in early March, I wrote a detailed post on how to make shrubs or drinking vinegars. They are a refreshing additive to cocktails, iced tea, lemonade, or just a little soda water. As I mentioned previously, a shrub is basically fruit, or even vegetables, combined with two other components: sugar and vinegar. After the correct ratio of those ingredients integrate over a little time, the result is a perfect balance of tartness, sugar, acidity, and texture. Shrubs are mouth-watering and concentrated, and they taste amazing when combined with soda water or integrated into a cocktail.

I made this rhubarb and strawberry shrub and have loved adding a little to homemade lemonade recently. I think I loved it best in a mojito. My mint is going crazy, so I have had to be super creative with using it in as many was as possible.


rhubarb + strawberry shrub


  • 10 ounces rhubarb, sliced into 1/4″ pieces
  • 6 ounces strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  1. In a large bowl, combine the rhubarb, strawberries, and sugar.
  2. Vigorously muddle the fruit. You really want to get out as much juice from the fruits, as you can.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in the fridge for three days, stirring the mixture occasionally.
  4. Add the white wine vinegar, muddle the fruit a little, and stir to integrate any undissolved sugar.
  5. Strain the mixture through a chinois or fine-mesh strainer into a clean jar.
  6. Return the shrub to the refrigerator and let it hang out there for one week, in order for the flavors to integrate.
  7. Shake well before using and either make a cocktail or add a little shrub to your soda water.

rhubarb strawberry shrub mojito | holly & flora rhubarb strawberry shrub mojito | holly & flora rhubarb strawberry shrub mojito | holly & flora

Mojitos were always so time-consuming to make, when I was behind the {muddling} stick. I know other bartenders, who would make theirs halfheartedly, so that no one would order them again. I actually found the process quite therapeutic, and I loved the taste of a well-incorporated mojito. I still do. For a little more history on the mojito, read this post on PUNCH.

Many recipes call for muddling raw sugar with mint leaves. I chose to make a mint simple syrup, instead. I’m using it for some orange-mint coconut cream pops, and I figured it would work perfectly in a mojito.


mint simple syrup


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • a handful of freshly cut mint leaves
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the water and sugar on the stove, just until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Remove from heat and toss in the mint leaves.
  3. Let steep for 10 minutes.
  4. Strain the mint leaves and cool.
  5. Store it in a clean, glass jar and use it up within a couple of weeks.

strawberry rhubarb shrub mojito | holly & flora rhubarb strawberry shrub mojito | holly & flora rhubarb strawberry shrub mojito | holly & flora rhubarb strawberry shrub mojito | holly & flora strawberry rhubarb shrub mojito | holly & flora


rhubarb + strawberry shrub mojito


  • 2 quarters of a lime
  • 1/2 ounce mint simple syrup
  • 2 sprigs of mint
  • 2 ounces white rum, like Downslope
  • 1 1/2 ounces rhubarb + strawberry shrub
  • soda water
  1. In a mixing tin, muddle the lime, simple syrup, and one sprig of mint. Save the other sprig for a garnish. Don’t slack. Muddle it well!
  2. Add ice, rum, and the shrub. Cover and give it a shake or two.
  3. Pour into a tall glass and top with soda water.
  4. Garnish with another sprig of mint, find a sunny spot, and sip slowly.
  • This recipe yields one drink. It is also a little tart because of the shrub. I like it that way, but you can always tone down the amount for a more subtle mojito. And adding more soda water also dilutes it!
  • If you don’t want to make the mint simple syrup, simply substitute regular simple syrup and add a little extra mint when muddling.
  • This multiplies easily for a pitcher drink. Just combine all of the ingredients, reserving the soda water for when you are ready to serve.

strawberry rhubarb shrub mojito | holly & flora strawberry rhubarb shrub mojito | holly & flora strawberry rhubarb shrub mojito | holly & floraCheers to an amazing week ahead!

Has your spring been consumed with herbaceous cocktails and fruity shrubs? If so, let me know what you’re doing. If not, get out and make yourself some!

XO,

Jayme

how to make shrubs {aka drinking vinegars} | 3 refreshing recipes

Shrub. What a funny, little word.

When I passionately mention my newly acquired skill of shrub-making to my friends, the first thing that comes to their minds is usually that scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, when the “Knights Who Say Ni” demand a shrubbery. Of course, the Knights desired a shrub of the green and leafy variety. If only I were there, when that demand was made. I would’ve had a much more exciting and delicious rendition of what they were asking for!

So, what does the word, shrub, mean, exactly? Michael Dietsch explains in rich detail the history of shrub-making, which dates way beyond even Colonial times, within the pages of his recent book, Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times. A shrub is basically fruit, or even vegetables, combined with two other components: sugar and vinegar. After the correct ratio of those ingredients integrate over a little time, the result is a perfect balance of tartness, sugar, acidity, and texture. Shrubs are mouth-watering and concentrated, and they taste amazing when combined with soda water or integrated into a cocktail.

how to make shrubs | holly & flora

The first time I even heard about shrubs, aka “drinking vinegars”, was on a recent trip to Oregon, back in the fall of 2013. I was working the Pinot Noir harvest with EIEIO & Co Winery, and I, along with the other members of the internship team, met up for dinner at Pok Pok, an award-winning Thai restaurant in Portland. Jay, the winemaker at EIEIO, insisted that I try one of Pok Pok’s drinking vinegars. I was kind of in the mood for a beer, but I acquiesced and chose the tamarind drinking vinegar from a list of about ten different, and often rotating, options.

I’ll admit that I was a little skeptical, at first. Drinking vinegar? I didn’t even know if that sounded appetizing. I was completely proven wrong, when I had my first, refreshingly vibrant sip. I quickly ordered another flavor and then thought about the possibilities of adding a shrub to a cocktail. I was smitten immediately, but it wasn’t until this past month that I became insanely obsessed with the shrub-making process.

how to make shrubs | holly & floraI promise you that you’ll be pleasantly surprised the first time you make or taste a shrub. They really don’t require a lot of work, just a little time and patience. Once you’ve made the shrub, strained it into a clean Mason jar, and let it rest for a week, the shrub is ready to drink. Shrubs will keep up to about six months, but discard if the shrub begins to bubble or ferment, or develops a slimy texture.

how to make shrubs | holly & flora how to make shrubs | holly & floraFor each of the recipes shown here, I incorporated the technique of making an oleo-saccharum during the shrub-making process. The phrase translates as “oily sugar” and is made by combining sugar with the zest of citrus and letting it integrate over the course of an hour or so. Adding this zesty sugar to a shrub recipe brightens the shrub and adds a depth of complexity to the mix. I especially noticed what the lemony sugar did to my raspberry-mint shrub – it added a punch of citrus and really balanced the flavors.

I learned this technique from the book, Shrubs, and it is super easy to follow.


how to make an oleo-saccharum


  1. Remove the zest of your citrus fruits with a vegetable peeler. You may use the skins of oranges, lemons, or grapefruits. Michael Diestch advises avoiding limes, since their skins are much more bitter.
  2. Be sure to avoid removing the tough, white piths of the citrus, when you’re peeling the zest away. The photo below shows the results you are looking for.
  3. In a bowl, combine the strips of zest with whatever measurement of sugar your recipe calls for. Using either a cocktail muddler or a sturdy, wooden spoon, really put some elbow grease into pressing the zest into the sugar.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least an hour.
  5. Remove the peels, once the time has passed. Your oleo-saccharum or “oily sugar” is ready to use!

how to make shrubs | holly & flora how to make shrubs | holly & flora how to make shrubs | holly & flora


blood orange shrub


  • 5 or 6 medium blood oranges, peeled and juiced {yield is about 1 1/2 cups juice}
  • 1/2 cup turbinado or raw sugar
  • 3/4 cup Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  1. Following the oleo-saccharum method above, combine the peeled skins of the oranges {the colored part of the orange peels} with the sugar, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for at least one hour.
  2. Juice the blood oranges.
  3. Once the oleo-saccharum is ready, remove the pieces of orange zest and add the blood orange juice and the Champagne vinegar to the sugar mixture.
  4. Stir well to dissolve any sugar particles.
  5. Transfer the shrub mixture into a clean jar, seal it, and shake it to further blend the ingredients. Store the shrub mixture in the refrigerator. Allow 2 to 3 days for the flavors to meld, before enjoying.
  • A special thanks to Michael Dietsch for letting me post his recipe for an orange shrub! I agree with him that the orange flavor matches perfectly with the raw sugar and Champagne vinegar. The next two recipes are my own creation, but were influenced by the tips and steps within his book.
  • Tip: When I tried removing the orange peels from the sugar, I found that a lot of the sugar was sticking to the peels. I didn’t want to lose all that sugar, so I simply poured the juice and the vinegar into the bowl of zest and sugar. I stirred the mixture well and then poured it through a fine-mesh strainer. I then tossed the zest.

how to make shrubs | holly & flora how to make shrubs | holly & flora how to make shrubs | holly & flora


strawberry + peppercorn shrub


  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 2 lemons, peeled
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 30 black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
  1. Using the oleo-saccharum technique, muddle the lemon peels with the sugar in a bowl. Cover the sugar mixture with plastic wrap and set aside for at least an hour.
  2. Once the hour has passed, remove the peels from the sugar and add the hulled and quartered strawberries, along with the coarsely crushed peppercorns, to the bowl. Stir to incorporate.
  3. Cover the strawberry mixture with plastic wrap, transfer to the refrigerator, and store for two hours.
  4. Remove the mixture from the fridge and muddle the mixture even further, getting out as much juice as possible from the berries.
  5. Add the vinegar to the strawberry mixture. Cover the bowl again, transfer the mixture back into the fridge, and store for two days.
  6. Remove the mixture from the fridge, muddle the berries again and strain through a chinois or fine-mesh strainer into a clean Mason jar.
  7. Store the shrub mixture in the fridge for a week to further integrate the flavors, before enjoying. Shake before using.

This recipe sounds a little labor-intensive, but follow the directions, and you won’t be disappointed with the results. This shrub has a sweet-tart strawberry flavor with a subtle, peppery finish.

how to make shrubs | holly & flora how to make shrubs | holly & flora


raspberry + mint shrub


  • 2 cups raspberries
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 2 lemons, peeled
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  1. Prepare your oleo-saccharum by peeling the skins of the lemons with a vegetable peeler. In a bowl, muddle the peels with the sugar, cover with plastic wrap, and wait for at least an hour.
  2. Add the raspberries and mint to the sugar mixture and muddle the raspberries, expressing some of their juice. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and transfer into the fridge. Let it sit for one day.
  3. Remove the raspberry mix from the fridge, muddle the fruit even more, and then add the vinegar to the mix. Stir to integrate and dissolve the sugar.
  4. Strain the mixture through a chinois or a fine-mesh strainer into a clean Mason jar.
  5. Store the shrub mixture in the refrigerator. Allow 1 week for the flavors to meld, before enjoying. Shake before using.

how to make shrubs | holly & flora

There you have it! Have you been smitten with the shrub-making bug like I have? If so, what tips do you have to offer? Any recipes you absolutely love? Clue me in! I can’t wait for gardening season to fully kick in. I have visions of celery shrubs, beet shrubs, and even herbal shrubs.

Oh! You probably want some ideas for how to actually incorporate those tasty shrubs of yours. I enjoy adding a shrub to a glass of ice and sparkling water, like the ones shown in the photos here, but they make amazing additions to cocktails. I like tossing in a small portion of shrub, say, an ounce, along with some gin and soda. Super simple. I did find a pretty good “cocktail generator equation”, via Bill Norris, contributor at Badass Digest:


basic shrub cocktail equation


  •  1 ½ to 2 parts base spirit {ex: gin}
  • 1 part complementary flavored liqueur {ex: citrus liqueur}
  • 1/2 part shrub
  • 2 dashes bitters {ex: orange or chamomile bitters}

Just combine those ingredients, along with ice, in a cocktail shaker. Shake thoroughly and strain either served up or over ice, along with a dash of soda. Garnish with an herb sprig, slice of fruit, or citrus wheel. Enjoy!

Cheers to shrubs, discovering new preservation techniques, and to the laughter and silliness that the entire Monty Python movement brought us. Now, go and cut down the tallest tree in the forest with a herring! 😉

XO,

Jayme