Category Archives: cocktails

shrubs (the kind you drink!)

My daughter-in-law-to-be’s parents gave us a book for the holidays called Shrubs – An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times by Michael Dietsch. I had never heard of a shrub before but since they are from Northern California where all cool trends start, I eagerly read more to enlighten myself!


A shrub is a colonial day drink, derived from the Arabic word sharab, to drink. It’s a concentrated syrup made from fruit, vinegar and sugar and then mixed with water, seltzer or alcohol.

I decided to try the Fresh Ginger Shrub since it was used in the recipe for Moscow Mules in the next chapter. I peeled 4 or 5 large pieces of fresh ginger, cut them into smaller pieces and pulsed them in the food processor. Then I squeezed the pureed ginger into a sieve lined with paper towel to get 1/2 cup of ginger juice. I added 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar and 1/3 cup sugar and put it in a mason jar.


When I tested my shrub, my mouth puckered! This was spicy from the ginger and tangy from the apple cider vinegar. But it’s meant to be a concentrate so I knew enough to wait until I mixed it with vodka and lime juice!

The next day I made the Moscow Mules from the book. They called for 2 oz vodka, 1 oz fresh lime juice, 3/4 oz fresh ginger shrub and soda water. Friends were over for dinner and they were game to try the drink so I filled four glasses with ice, followed the recipe, added a little tonic water and a lime garnish and we clinked our glasses and drank. The faces we made were not pretty! This was a tart drink that tasted like a lot of ginger and apple cider vinegar! With the addition of more vodka and tonic, we got the ratios right and it was a very refreshing summer cocktail.

Most of the recipes involve fruit as the original idea behind a shrub was the vinegar would preserve the fruit before the days of refrigeration. The NYTimes has a recipe for Summer Fruit Shrub from the same book if you are curious to try making one but I scared you off with the ginger recipe! If you like kombucha, you will probably like shrubs. Let us know if you try it!



friday favourite – san fran gin

So, I coulda, shoulda, woulda been in San Francisco this week with friends. But I stayed home and worked. Blah!

In my absence, my friends took up the challenge to visit White Chapel Gin Bar –  which boasts the largest gin selection in North America. So, while I couldn’t be there, they did ask for my recommendations from the website menu.

Oh my. Names like Lamplighter Story, Norman Conquest, Hippie Wallbanger, The Ginger Rogers and Follow That Black Rabbit.

So many gins. So far away.

I quickly sent some of the cocktail concoctions that caught my eye…and share this with you as my Friday favourite.


ginger syrup

People tend to either love or hate ginger. If you are a hater, stop reading now! However, if you can’t get enough of it, let me tell you about ginger syrup! Remember when you had a stomach ache as a kid and your mom told you to drink flat ginger ale?! That’s because ginger settles your stomach. I always travel with ginger candies for bumpy plane and car rides and now I have a jar of ginger syrup in the frig.


A friend of mine gave me a recipe for a drink with ginger syrup, fresh squeezed lime juice and vodka. I have made the drink several times and served it to friends – it’s like fun truth serum!

It starts with ginger syrup. Chop about 1/3 cup fresh ginger into small pieces (you don’t have to peel it). Add it to 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Bring this mixture to a boil and then let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Cool and then strain it.

To make the Ginger Lime Koolaid

  • 1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 oz ginger syrup
  • 2-4 oz vodka

Shake mixture over ice. Pour into martini glasses. Garnish with fresh lime.

I usually make a double batch of ginger syrup and store it in the frig. I add a spoonful to seltzer for homemade ginger ale and add it to hot water for soothing ginger tea. Try it and let us know what you think.




feeding a crowd

It was no big deal when my boys showed up with some friends for an impromptu pool party on the 4th. We just needed lots of everything.

We served up four kinds of salads – tabouli, broccoli slaw, pasta with pesto, and a fresh green salad with peach and roasted corn (thanks Maddie).


For the protein course, we had steak tips marinated in Trader Joe’s soyaki sauce, ribs and chicken sausage.

Cold beer, seltzer and taste tasting of three gins – Hendrick’s, Uncle Val’s Botanical and Boodles rounded out the beverage course.


And dessert was a blueberry/strawberry pie and a side of watermelon.

Add in a little basketball and frisbee in the pool, and the day was perfect.




friday favourite – rhubarb G&T

My neighbour has a rhubarb patch and he encourages me to help myself to as much rhubarb as I want. I picked a lot this year! I made a few rhubarb crisps and still had enough for this rhubarb G&T. First you make rhubarb syrup. Chop 3 cups of rhubarb and combine with 1 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until the rhubarb is very soft. Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Transfer the syrup to a glass jar or bottle and admire the colour.

Then you make the cocktail using the pretty pink syrup! Combine 1 oz rhubarb syrup, 1 oz fresh lime juice, 2 oz gin and 2 oz tonic. Pour over ice & garnish with lime or rhubarb.

Then you drink it – summer in a glass!


HAR (and Ben for finding the recipe!)