The dog days of summer are certainly living up to their name this year, am I right? But with every hot and sticky summer day comes a silver lining, this time in the form of a refreshing and fruity cocktail featuring MOTHER shrub. Mother what, you ask?
A shrub, also known as a drinking vinegar, is a great way to infuse flavor into both food and drink recipes. Drinking vinegars are surprisingly versatile products, and they provide a great opportunity to be creative in the kitchen or at the bar. The list of what you can use them for goes on and on, but possibilities include adding to sparkling water, beer, champagne or a cocktail or using in recipes for marinades, salad dressings or even a dessert topping drizzled over pound cake or ice cream.
Drinking vinegars first came to the scene hundreds of years ago, but these days, they are making a comeback and you’ll find a shrub cocktail on the menu at most bars that serve craft cocktails. We’re lucky enough to have a company making drinking vinegars right here in Richmond, MOTHER shrub. Read on to learn more about this local company, and at the end of this post, you’ll be rewarded with a delicious cocktail recipe!
The story behind MOTHER shrub
I sat down recently with Meredyth Archer, the woman behind MOTHER shrub drinking vinegars, to learn more from her about what inspired her to start her business. Though Archer has lived in Richmond for a long time, she grew up in West Virginia and she first remembers drinking vinegar with her grandmother as a child. Fast forward a number of years, and Archer found herself flipping through a family cookbook from the late 1800’s when she came across a recipe for raspberry drinking vinegar. She remembered the vinegar her grandmother always used to drink as a child and thought, “Maybe she’s on to something.”
Around the same that Archer saw a vinegar recipe in a cookbook, she also came across a sign that said, “She woke up one day and threw away her excuses.” That sign and the recipe were just the motivation Archer needed to make a batch of the recipe she found in the cookbook, which turned into another batch, which turned into the business that is now MOTHER shrub. After that first batch, she jumped right in and started researching different flavors and different ways to make shrub. Those who know Archer probably aren’t surprised to hear that she was all in as soon as she got the idea. After all, Archer comes from a very creative family, and food has always been here personal creative outlet. She’s put that creativity to good use for everything from cooking Thanksgiving dinner to making homemade kombucha, and today, into making shrubs.
Archer has made an awfully good product, but what she seems to love most about her business is converting people to a different kind of vinegar and introducing them to different possibilities. A lot of people shy away from drinking vinegars, and Archer wants to change that mentality. I’d say she’s well on her way. This past March, MOTHER shrub’s cranberry shrub won the best overall new food product at the Virginia Food and Beverage Expo. That’s when Archer officially got serious about launching the product and decided this was something she could take to a different level beyond just giving it to her family and friends.
Though Archer currently makes all of the products on her own, she rents a commercial kitchen in Goochland to increase production of the drinking vinegars. As of now, three flavors of MOTHER shrub are available: grapefruit, cranberry and black cherry. New varieties like lime and ginger will be added to the roster in coming months.
Looking ahead, Archer hopes to expand to additional retailers and collaborate with local restaurants. Most of all, she hopes that you’ll give MOTHER shrub a try. Even if you don’t think you’ll like drinking vinegar, you just might surprise yourself with these.
Where to find MOTHER shrub
These drinking vinegars are currently available in Virginia and Alabama, and you check out a full list of retailers here. Richmonders can find MOTHER shrub at retailers like Stock Provisions and Kohlmann’s Neighborhood Market, as well as at South of the James Farmers’ Market on Saturdays through October. Currently, the drinking vinegars cannot be purchased online, but Archer is looking into shipping options and hopes that it is something that will be available soon.
The product retails for $15 – $18 dollars for a 16 ounce bottle which might sound like a high price point, but this is a product where a little truly does go a long way. One bottle can be enough for 16-32 drinks with a half ounce or ounce of shrub per drink. Shelf life isn’t an issue either, though the product is best when refrigerated after opening. As Archer says, “You’ll run out of it before it ever goes bad.”
Last but not least, included below is a recipe for a cocktail I made recently using MOTHER shrub’s grapefruit drinking vinegar. You can find more recipes on the company website. I know I’m already looking forward to Thanksgiving with Archer’s recommendation of Prosecco topped with cranberry shrub for a festive holiday beverage, but until then, the grapefruit mint cocktail below is the perfect summer treat!
- 1 part grapefruit MOTHER shrub
- 1 part Tito's Vodka or your choice of spirit
- 1 lime wedge
- 1 bunch of mint
- 2 parts seltzer or sparkling water
- Sugar, to taste
- Gently crush mint in the bottom of glass. Add shrub and spirits. Top with seltzer and ice. Squeeze in the juice of a lime wedge. Stir. Serve with a lime as garnish. If the flavor is too sour for you, add a bit of sugar to taste.
Cheers! What’s your favorite summer cocktail recipe?