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BAR BLIPS #2: Shrubs

Posted on Thursday, Mar. 27, 2014


As a bartender, one of the most gratifying aspects of working at Metropole is that fact that we create so many mixers for our cocktails from scratch. Ranging from bitters to liqueurs, we are always trying to challenge ourselves by adding depth of flavor to our cocktails. By far, the house mixer that incites the most curiosity are our house made shrubs.

So, what the heck is a shrub? Simply put, a shrub is a drinking vinegar comprised of fruit or vegetables. At Metropole we add depth to our shrubs by adding herbs, and/or spices. Prior to the invention of refrigeration, a shrub syrup was a way of preserving fruit long after its picking prime. Shrubs have a long, rich history dating back to Babylonians and Roman times. Colonial-era sailors carried shrubs aboard their boats to prevent scurvy, and these wonderful elixirs gained popularity during the Temperance movement. The word “shrub” is derived from the Arabic “sharab” which means “a drink.” The words sherbet and syrup also come from this Arabic root.

The ideal shrub has a flavor that’s both tart and sweet, so it stimulates the appetite while also quenching thirst. Shrubs are amazing in cocktails because they add so many elements without creating a concoction that is overly sweet. Aside from being delicious, the shrub sodas we serve are also digestively beneficial, especially during a meal like lunch. The vinegar present is high in acetic acid, which can increase the body’s absorption of important minerals from the foods we eat.


Shrubs we are currently serving include:

CLEMENTINE: tarragon, clove, red wine vinegar

KIWI and CARA CARA: mint, elderflower, cinnamon, apple cider vinegar (Cara cara oranges are a type of navel orange, their interior is a distinctive pinkish red, and they have an exceptionally sweet flavor with a tangy cranberry-like zing.)

CARROT APPLE: ginger, lavender, apple cider vinegar

We’ve taken these shrubs and used them to create the following cocktails:

RYE NOT? Bulleit Rye, clementine shrub-This is a wonderfully bright and zesty cocktail.  Easy drinking at it’s finest.  Bulleit Rye is an awesome rye that is a go-to for so many bartenders to use in cocktails. The rye marries beautifully with the clementine shrub which is slightly spiced and full of zingy citrus flavor. Tarragon has a slightly bittersweet flavor and an aroma similar to anise, which adds a nice balance to the shrub.

HIPHOPOPOTAMUS: Vodka, house made huckleberry bitters, Angostura bitters, kiwi cara cara shrub-This cocktail is sweet and tart with a bit of spice.  The mint gives it a refreshing roundness, and the cinnamon gives it a rich and familiar winter spice. An excellent initiatory cocktail to novices who want to break out of that vodka soda rut!

EL SPRING GROVE: tequila, house made orange curacao, carrot apple shrub- An ode to the ever popular margarita, this cocktail is a touch smoky and salty from the tequila and finishes with a nice orangey sweetness.  The shrub is slightly sweet and tart from the apple and carrot, with just a hint of floral note from the lavender and a slight spice from the ginger. A wonderful concoction to save you from those drab winter blues!

We hope you have as much pleasure partaking in these cocktails as we did in creating them. And while we painstakingly tested these cocktails (some several times), we encourage guests to think of our bar as their own personal cocktail playground.  Love the clementine shrub but don’t care for rye? We suggest pairing it with a delightfully fruity gin. Point being, we don’t want you to feel boxed in by the confines of our drink list. Can’t decide? Give us a suggestion and we’ll make something delicious together. Maybe it will end up on our cocktail list, and maybe we’ll name it after you! Where do you think “The Earl” came from?


Your neighborhood bartender,

Catherine Manabat


P.S. Stay tuned for the new spring shrubs: mango, grapefruit and strawberry, with the strawberry shrub featuring our very own house made strawberry champagne vinegar!