Brandy Shrub

Jul 2, 2017

Cocktail nerds like me will have heard of Shrubs. Some many even have worked them into a drink recipe or two.

Honestly, I’ve only tasted Shrubs once at the Night Club and Bar Industry Show a couple years back. If memory serves, it was Ginger Root infused. To help illustrate the product, the Shrub was mixed into a cocktail. I recall hoping for greatness from the 1 ounce cup they handed me. Alas, neither of us enjoyed the strong vinegar that lingered in the drink.

Our lone experience did not inspire the urge to branch out and experiment other Shrubs. I assume they can’t all be bad, I see recipes incorporating them into a wide variety of mixed beverages. Maybe someday I’ll be brave and give this Colonial era mixer another shot. Anyone have suggestions?

I was excited to make my own Shrub as Mr. Boston’s next cocktail recipe instructs and even happier to learn that there are two different types.  In fact, it turns out today’s recipe doesn’t contain vinegar at all – YAY!

Hailing from England in the 17th century, today’s Shrub recipe took some advance preparation. The  instructions  Leo Cotton published explicitly instruct one to marinate “the thin rinds of 2 lemons and the juice of 5,” with 2 quarts of Mr. Boston’s Apricot Nectar for 3 days.

With our second bottle of Apricot Brandy half way gone, and without knowing whether or not we would like the Shrub, I decided to scale it down by 1/64th.

  • 1 thin peel of lemon
  • 1/3 lemon juiced
  • 4 ounces of Apricot Brandy

Following the directions, we combined the ingredients above on Friday so that it would be ready for today’s trial.

The once clear Brandy, has colored up by the lemon juice and the fruit has broken down. It isn’t very appetizing but most infusions aren’t at first.

Apricot Brandy Infused with Lemon

Apricot Brandy had been infusing with lemon juice and peel for 3 days.

As expected, the lemon infused Apricot Brandy was quite tart. The alcohol vapor seems to have dissipated during the process. I didn’t notice the Apricot notes anymore until the very end at the tip of my tongue.

The second step in the Scrub making process notes the addition of 2 ounces of Sherry and 1/4 cup of sugar. I had to guess a bit on the Sherry, I wasn’t sure whether cream or dry  Sherry would be more appropriate.

Given the amount of sugar I needed to add, I settled on dry.

stiring sugar and sherry

We tried to dissolve the 1/4 cup of sugar into 2 ounces of Sherry before adding the infused Apricot Brandy to the mix. It wasn’t working. Thankfully, the lower proof infusion was able to help the granules melt away.

The final instruction says to “run it through a jelly bag and then bottle.” I eluded to the said jelly bag back on Thursday. Despite driving over to a professional restaurant supply house, I was unable to find the bag I needed locally. While one employee of the shop did not recognize the item I was looking for, another did not have any suggestions on where to find one in town.

fine mesh for infusion filtering

We picked this fine mesh up at Joanne’s Fabrics. It was relatively inexpensive and worked well for the task at hand.

To save time and gas, I decided to use a piece of very fine mesh material Ryan purchased for another infusion project. Given the description of the jelly bag, I figured this mesh would be course enough to left the syrupy liquid pass but finer than cheese cloth.

Using a fine mesh fabric to strain alcohol infusion

A rubber band worked perfectly to hold the fabric in place as we transferred the infusion to a Ball canning jar.

Squeezing the excess liquid from infused alcohol during filtering

The fine mesh did not clarify the final product as well as a paper coffee filter does. But, it is more forgiving for extracting all the juice from the fruit and doesn’t tear like the paper can. I’d say this would make for a great intermediary step in the alcohol infusion filtering process.

The end result of our Brandy Shrub experiment yielded a delicious result! If you like Limoncello, you need this recipe in your life. We keep our bottle of Limoncello in the freezer at all times and given the intense sweetness of this Shrub, I popped our sealed mixture into the freezer too.

I found the Sherry to be a bit unbalance but I expect that will correct itself as it fully melds with the lemon infused Apricot Brandy and sugar over time. For now, I think I’ll let this tasty treat settle and chill and give it another try tomorrow.