Hi guys, I’m Jenny and I blog over at The Domestic Wildflower where I share homemade food and crafts and one of my specialties is homemade, easy preserves for cocktails. It’s a rough expertise to have, but someone’s gotta do it ;) I got into homemade mixology because my love of canning led me into exploring easy, counter-top preserves like shrubs and bounces (more on those in a minute!) and I started filling my canning jars with homemade mixers left, right, and center!
I am great at making things myself, but I wasn’t naturally a great hostess.
You know that awful, nervous feeling when it is your turn to host book club, help organize a graduation party, arrange a bridal shower or invite your in laws over for drinks?
Or are you the one in the family that gets nominated to host company, even though it is definitely not your turn nor your idea of a good time?
Your house is a wreck, your couch may or may not double as a dog bed, and you have zero idea of how to feed and water all these people. You feel unprepared, uninspired, and a bit at a loss as to how to make your guests feel like they are attending a special event. You are afraid they'll leave feeling (knowing!) as if you were on edge the entire time.
You'd like to be one of those hostess you see on the cover of a magazine: calm, smiling, serving brilliant, gem-colored drinks, with a wholesome meal cooking somewhere out of sight.
Well, that was me. I used to dread having company over, I never knew what the heck to serve my guests, and I chose a boring bottle of wine to bring when invited to dinner based off the label alone.
Mastering how to make a few, simple, farmer’s market fresh drinks quickly and easily for my girlfriends that came over for book club or when we were invited to big family dinners at my in-law’s made me feel like the hostess with the mostess...and let me tell you, that’s an amazing feeling!
The kind of homemade cocktails I made have simple, easy to find, regular grocery store type ingredients and can easily be mocktail versions too; I just love being able to have a fresh glass of something pretty, sparkling, and refreshing at dinnertime after a long day.
One of my favorite homemade mixers are shrubs. A shrub is a syrup made from fruit, sugar, and vinegar. They are super easy, NO-COOK, and different! Who is sick of the same, tired old margarita mix from the grocery store shelf? Shrubs are unusual, sweet-tart, and in addition to being used in cocktails they can be used in vinaigrettes and marinades.
You only need the ingredients (almost always just fruit, vinegar, sugar and maybe an herb or two), a glass jar (I use canning jars but you can use any non-reactive vessel like a reused pasta jar-skip a metal container) and a week to wait.
It bears mentioning that shrub making isn’t fermenting. The week the mixture sits on the counter is a way of skipping the boiling of the fruit. I like to skip cooking the mixture because it preserves the fresh fruit flavor AND avoids washing a pot. Double win.
I love that shrubs are based in super healthful vinegar and you only use a tiny bit of the fruit-vinegar-sugar syrup in a glass of sparkling water. Shrubs were popularized during the Depression when sugar was in short supply, so these drinks aren’t overly sweet.
The basic procedure is that you will mix fruit and sugar together, and then add vinegar. A week later, the mixture is strained and stored in the refrigerator. Easy, right?
Apple Shrub is a great recipe because it takes just one apple of any variety, is fun to spice up with cinnamon or a few dissolved red-hot candies, and mixed with whiskey. It is a cocktail that will slide you right into fall.
You will need:
- 1 apple, shredded with a box grater or rough chopped
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup good quality apple cider vinegar
Place shredded apple at the bottom of a glass jar. Cover with sugar. A funnel is helpful but not necessary. Cover jar with lid, and let it sit on your counter for several hours, even overnight. Add vinegar and stir. Lid, and let sit on your counter for up to a week. Strain into a clean vessel, add a teaspoon of cinnamon if you desire, and store in the refrigerator.
- 1 part shrub
- 1 part whiskey (I thought Bulleit Bourbon was very tasty with this particular shrub) - optional of course
- 3 parts sparkling or plain water
Mix and serve. Pumpkin patch, tall boots, and flannel button down are optional.
This shrub is just one of the many flavor combinations that I love to share with new home mixologists. Once you make this shrub, you’ll see how fun and simple it can be to mix up a flavorful mixer in a jar and share it with friends.
I created a super valuable, printable guide that I think you all will love. The Mixology Matrix has 27 recipes for homemade cocktails, all on one easy to read printable!
The beautiful matrix gives a budding mixologist for countless ways to mix homemade mixers into cocktails and mocktails sure to impress.
There are culinary, contemporary, and classic flavor combinations-- think fresh peach puree with jalapeno infused simple syrup, or pineapple shrub, hibiscus tea, and tequila!
View the Mixology Matrix from your phone, or print it and use the 2 bonus pages to log your very own shrub and simple syrup creations.
Grab the Mixology Matrix- all 27 recipes plus the bonus shrub & simple syrup logs - for just $7!