Shrub, also known as drinking vinegar, was the first popular American drink far before Coca-Cola. Shrubs were a way for Americans to cool off during the sweltering heat of summer, especially in the American South. Throughout the eighteenth century shrubs could be found in places ranging from the rolling countryside of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello to the blistering streets of New Orleans.
Even long before the ancient Israelites used vinegar-based drinks to cool off. In the Bible Ruth was credited with sharing a vinegar-based drink while working in the fields of Boaz.
Shrubs were not only believed to help refresh, but shrubs also offered health benefits. Here is a refreshing peach shrub punch recipe as we still experience sweltering days. This is a great option for a tailgating bash or fall dinner party.
Peach Shrub Punch
2 cups peach shrub (see recipe below)
8-10 oz vodka
4 cups of ice
2 cups club soda
Combine all in ingredients. Stir and serve.
1 pound peaches
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup white wine vinegar
10 to 20 fresh basil leaves
Halve, pit, and cut the peaches into 1-inch pieces and place in a medium, nonreactive bowl.
Add the sugar and toss until the peaches are thoroughly coated and most of the sugar has dissolved. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days, checking after 1 day to make sure that all the sugar on the bottom has dissolved. (If the sugar hasn’t dissolved, toss again.)
Add the vinegar and basil and stir to combine. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 7 to 10 days.
Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Strain the peach mixture, pressing on it with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to extract all of the liquid; discard the contents of the strainer. Transfer the peach shrub to a pint jar or container, cover with a tightfitting lid, and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.