Growing up, my dad and grandmother extoled the virtues of drinking apple cider vinegar. As a young girl I was highly skeptical, but over time learned to appreciate their jugement. I am far from a regular inbiber, but I can see its merits, and the flavor has grown on me.
Word of Advice – This is a drink that demands a straw, as it makes the teeth sensitive. I found it palatable diluted with water and served over ice, and a lot of folks recommend the addition of honey. Go for the good stuff, you don’t want to skimp on quality if you drink it – you can taste the difference.
I had always considered it a folksy remedy, one of those food is medicine encounters, until I came face to face with a vast selection of vinegar drinks in my local Asian market, and then I had to reconsider. And because sometimes, apparently you need to be hit over the head with, I got a note in my in box called “Drink Your Vinegar” about a restaurant, Pok Pok in Portland Oregon that was selling their own version (and with coincidences being what they are, I can’t resist linking to Leela of SheSimmers post on Pok Pok’s chef Andy Ricker and a delicious recipe for Tom Saep Neua – talk about timing).
Is this another trend? Maybe, but Mixologists have been usings a vinegar and sugar concentration (called a shrub) to create novel flavors for a long time, but drinking vinegar for its own merit was another thing entirely. So if you think those shrubs are part of a new fangled Asian trend, a vinegary drink called the shrub has been made in Western Countries since the 19th century. I’ve seen both non-alcolohol and alcoholic versions of this drink. Another example of a vinegar drink, this one using Balsamic vinegar and jam, also landed in my in box, I mean I was bombarded with ideas for this post to such an extent that I dropped the one I was working on.
The non-alcoholic kind owes its popularity to the Temperance Movement during Prohibition which promoted the drink as an alternative to hard liqueur. The Culinary Historians of Canada have a tasty sounding recipe for Strawberry and Raspberry Shrub.
In fact, this drink is probably far older and more common than we are considering. Try the Arab speaking countries whose drinks are remarkably similar to the non vinegary version of shrubs. I cannot say this is the area where this drink started, but Azita, of the wonderful Persian blog, Turmeric & Saffron recently posted on a favorite rhubarb sherbet that her mother made.
Take a look at the etymology for Shrub: from Arabic شراب (shiraab, “a drink, beverage”), شرب (sháriba, “to drink”), akin to sirup, sherbet
The formal definition of a shrub: A liquor composed of vegetable acid, fruit juice (especially lemon), sugar, sometimes vinegar, and a small amount of spirit as a preservative. Modern shrub is usually non-alcoholic, but in earlier times it was often mixed with a substantial amount of spirit such as brandy or rum, thus making it a liqueur.
But does it taste good? The apple cider vinegar drink is an acquired taste. The vinegar drinks from the Asian Markets, I find really refreshing and I love the pineapple flavor. I’m looking forward to sampling Azita’s sherbet soon too. My verdict is that these delicious drinks are perfect for summer and they take advantage of all the bounty of wonderful fruit. I am looking forward to sampling more flavors and options and mixing up my drinks. No more will I consider vinegar to just dress my greens.