Home Fermented Root Beer

Summer 2013 Root Beer Project, Post 18

I recently experimented with home brewed Root Beer, Flannestad Root Beer, but I didn’t quite follow it to its logical extension.

For some reason, while I’ve done a lot of infusions, I’ve never tried fermenting anything (except bread) at home. I’ve never even made home fermented ginger beer.

However, when Charles Hires first created his Root Beer Dry Mix and Syrup in the late 1800s, he expected people to be able to ferment it at home.

I reproduce his instructions here from a booklet circa 1892:

Recipe and Directions for Making Root Beer

Take Contents of Bottle. 4 Pounds of Sugar (granulated is preferable).
5 Gallons of Fresh Water (preferably luke-warm).
Half-Pint of fresh yeast, or half cake of fresh compressed yeast.
When making in cool weather, double the quantity of yeast is used.

The Way to Do It:

Dissolve the sugar thoroughly in the water, then add the Root Beer Extract and the yeast. (If cake yeast be used, it should first be dissolved in a little cold water, then it will mix more readily with the Beer.) Stir until thoroughly mixed, and bottle in strong bottles or jugs at once, corking and tying the corks securely. Then be sure and set in a warm place for several hours, so that it can become effervescent. (If set in a cool place when first made the yeast becomes chilled and cannot work.) It will be ready to drink after being bottled in ten or twelve hours, but will open more effervescingly if allowed to stand for three or four days. After the Beer has become effervescent, it should then be set in a cool place of even temperature. Before opening the bottle place it on ice, or in a cold place, for a short time, when it will be sparkling and delicious.

To make the Beer more cheaply, molasses or common sugar may be used to sweeten it.

A very pleasant drink may be made for immediate use by adding two teasponfuls of the Extract to a quart of water, sweetening it with granulated sugar to suit the taste, then beat half the white of an egg, and mix together.

NOTE. –Occasionally parties write us that they have tried to make the Root Beer, and while it is very good, it does not evervesce, or pop, when it is opened.

Now, when a case of this kind happens, we know that there is something wrong in the making of it. Either the yeast was not good, or else the Beer, when made, was placed in the cellar, or in a cool place, where it became chilled and could not ferment.

A woman in making bread is always very careful that the dough does not become chilled, so sets it in a warm place to insure its rising and becoming light. So it is with our Root Beer, warmth is essential to life. If this simple fact is borne in mind no one will ever fail in making our Root Beer to have it delicious and Sparkling.

When we say “fresh compressed yeast,” we mean the small square cake yeast that is sold fresh every day in most of the prominent towns of the United States at two cents a cake. When only the dry cake yeast can be had, a whole cake should be used. In fact, our experience has been that very little of the dry cake yeast sold is good for anything; we therefore prefer to use good fresh baker’s yeast, or fresh compressed yeast.

If these simple hints are carefully borne in mine the Root Beer is very little trouble to make successfully.

When we say “yeast” we do not mean Baking Powder.

The Charles E. Hires Co.,
Sole Manufacturers,
Philadelphia, PA

Well, right, then. If late 19th Century home makers can do that, so can I.

I decided to try and turn my sweetened Root Beer syrup into a sparkling beverage.

I proofed a teaspoon of active dry yeast with warm water and a teaspoon of sugar in the bottom of a clean quart plastic soft drink bottle. When the yeast was active, I added about a cup of my Flannestad Root Beer Syrup, then filled with lukewarm water. I let this sit in a warm cool place overnight. Then in the morning, I placed it in the fridge to chill.

I may have used too much yeast.

Mrs. Flannestad was surprised how much the beverage reminded her of real Beer. I was pleased that the yeasts had consumed some of the sugars, leaving it a slightly dryer beverage.

Flannestad Root Beer

Summer 2013 Root Beer Project, Post 16

Starting from this Root Beer recipe, which is claimed to date from the mid-1800s or earlier:

“Gather a quantity of hops and roots of burdock, yellow dock, sarsaparilla,
dandelion, and spikenard. Dry them thoroughly, then chip ½ ounce of each.
Pour over this mixture a gallon of water and boil it hard for twenty minute
and strain while hot, then add ten drops each of the oils of spruce and
sassafras well mixed. When lukewarm, stir in two-thirds pint of molasses
and 3 tablespoons of jug yeast. Mix well. Let stand in a stone
crock, covered with a cloth, in a warm place for two hours. Bottle. Cork
bottles well and store on a cold cellar floor.”

And Charles Hires’ Ingredients:

Birch Bark – United States, New England
Chirreta – India
Dog Grass – Germany
Ginger – Africa
Ginger – China
Ginger – Jamaica
Hires special plant
Hops – United States, Northwest
Juniper Berries – Italy
Licorice – Spain
Licorice – Russia
Sarsaparilla – Honduras
Sugar – Cuba
Vanilla – Mexico
Wintergreen – United States, North Carolina
Yerba Mate – Brazil

Root Beer Ingredients

Root Beer Ingredients

Flannestad Root Beer Syrup, v.1



1 tsp Sarsaparilla Root, Jamaican
1 tsp Sassafras Root Bark*
1/2 tsp Ginger Root, Dry
1/2 tsp Ginger Root, sliced fresh
1/2 tsp Juniper Berries, crushed
1/2 tsp American Spikenard
1/2 tsp Dandelion Root, Roasted
1/2 tsp Licorice Root
1/2 tsp Licorice Root, Honey Roasted
1/3 Vanilla Bean, Split


1 tsp Wintergreen
1/2 tsp Horehound
1/2 tsp Cascade Hops
1/2 tsp Yerba Mate

1/2 Cup Molasses
1 1/2 Cup Washed Raw Sugar

Root Beer Brewing.

Root Beer Brewing.

METHOD: Bring 2 Cups of Water to a boil. Add Roots and simmer for 20 mins. Turn off heat and add herbs. Steep for another 20 mins. Strain out solids. Stir in Molasses and Washed Raw Sugar, cool, and keep refrigerated. Makes a 3 cups of Syrup. To serve, mix syrup to taste with soda water.

Root Beer.

Root Beer.

My initial thought is that the Molasses flavor is too strong, kind of overwhelms everything else in the mix. Definitely more bitter than any commercial Root Beer I’ve ever tried, and more herbal. A good place to start, but I don’t think anyone trying it would recognize it as Root Beer. For v2.0, I think I need to double the Sarsaparilla, Sassafras, and Wintergreen. Also, a little too sweet.

Might have to get the smoker out, after all.

*Blah, blah, Sassafras is not FDA GRAS, as it causes liver cancer in rats after they’ve been given high doses of pure sassafras oil intravenously for about a year. I’m amazed the rats lived that long, with that high a dose of anything, but use at your own risk. Thus, while no one has ever correlated Sassafras, Gumbo File, or Root Beer with Liver cancer in humans, I’d try to avoid shooting up with it. I also wouldn’t give it to kids, but they probably wouldn’t like this complex concoction in any case.

Birch Beer/Birch Bark

Regarding Birch Beer, I’ve been just a tad confused.

Apparently, Birch sap is similar to Maple sap and a syrup can be made from it which can be fermented and turned into beer, wine, or spirits. However, the sugar levels in Birch Sap are much lower than that of Maple, so the yield is less per gallon.

So, I was initially confused as regards whether Birch Sap or Birch Bark/Extract was used in Birch or Root Beer.

I think the most important quote below is, “Birch Tar oil is almost identical with Wintergreen oil.” As Wintergreen is often considered a substitute for Sassafras in Root Beer, thus Birch Bark or Birch Bark Extract could also be.

In conclusion, while it is possible that Birch Sap has been used to make beer in the US, it is much more likely that Root Beer calls for Birch Bark or Birch Bark Extract.

EDIT: Final Twist!

It appears Birch Beer/Birch Beer Extract is made from the bark/branches of the American Birch species, Black Birch (Cherry Birch,Sweet Birch), Betula lenta, not the European species White Birch, Betula alba, or Paper Birch, Betula papyrifera. The small twigs of Black Birch are known for their Wintergreen flavor, while Betula alba is more camphorous. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that Black Birch Bark is available from any online suppliers I can find.

As noted below, Wintergreen Oil and Sweet Birch Oil are essentially identical chemically, so if you’re using one, you probably don’t need to use the other in your Root Beer, especially since it seems to be pretty impossible to find sweet birch bark available commercially. If you’ve got a Sweet Birch (Betula lenta) in your backyard, give making it from scratch a try and let me know how it works out.

Sweet Birch

From a Modern Herbal, Circa 1931, Mrs. M. Grieve,

White Birch

Birch Beer:

“When the stem of the tree is wounded, a saccharine juice flows out which is susceptible, with yeast, of vinous fermentation. A beer, wine, spirit and vinegar are prepared from it in some parts of Europe. Birch Wine, concocted from this thin, sugary sap of the tree, collected from incisions made in the trees in March, honey, cloves and lemon peel being added and then the whole fermented with yeast, makes a very pleasant cordial, formerly much appreciated. From 16 to 18 gallons of sap may be drawn from one large tree, and a moderate tapping does no harm.”

Birch Bark, Contituents:

“Birch bark only contains about 3 per cent. of tannic acid, but is extensively used for tanning, wherever there are large birch forests, throughout Northern Europe. As it gives a pale colour to the skin, it is used for the preliminary and the final stages of tanning. It contains betulin and betuls camphor.

“The leaves contain betulorentic acid.

“By destructive distillation, the white epidermis of the bark yields an empyreumatic oil, known variously in commerce as oil of Birch Tar, Oleum Rusci, Oleum Betulinum or Dagget. This is a thick, bituminous, brownish-black liquid, with a pungent, balsamic odour. It contains a high percentage of methylsalicylate, and also creosol and guaiacol. The Rectified Oil (Oleum Rusci Rectificatum) is sometimes substituted for oil of Cade.

“Birch Tar oil is almost identical with Wintergreen oil. It is not completely soluble in 95 per cent. acetic acid, nor in aniline, but Turpentine oil dissolves it completely.

Western Medicinal Use:

“Various parts of the tree have been applied to medicinal uses. The young shoots and leaves secrete a resinous substance having acid properties, which, combined with alkalies, is said to be a tonic laxative. The leaves have a peculiar, aromatic, agreeable odour and a bitter taste, and have been employed in the form of infusion (Birch Tea) in gout, rheumatism and dropsy, and recommended as a reliable solvent of stone in the kidneys. With the bark they resolve and resist putrefaction. A decoction of them is good for bathing skin eruptions, and is serviceable in dropsy.

“The oil is astringent, and is mainly employed for its curative effects in skin affections, especially eczema, but is also used for some Internal maladies.

“The inner bark is bitter and astringent, and has been used in intermittent fevers.

“The vernal sap is diuretic.

“Moxa is made from the yellow, fungous excrescences of the wood, which sometimes swell out from the fissures.”

Birch History in North America

“White birch bark was a traditional treatment used by Native Americans in tea and other beverages to treat stomach and intestinal problems that included diarrhea and dysentery.”

“White birch bark contains aspirin-like compounds and should not be used by anyone sensitive to aspirin.”

Shopping List

For a trip to Scarlet Sage:

Wintergreen Leaf
Wild Cherry Bark
Tonka Bean
Sarsaparilla (Jamaican)
Sassafras Bark of Root
Licorice Root
Birch Bark
Burdock Root
Dandelion Root
Cardamom Pods (Green)
Cardamom Pods (Black)
Spruce Oil

Huh, when I smelled these individually, I couldn’t quite imagine how they fit in to Root Beer. Now that I smell them together, they kind of make sense.

Hell-fire Bitters

We’ve been getting requests for spicy drinks, so I am starting a new batch of Hellfire Bitters for South at SF Jazz.

I also realized I had only ever written about Hell-Fire Bitters on eGullet.org (in 2005!), never on the blog.

Posted 10 November 2005 – 10:38 AM
The most recent Sunday NY Times Style magazine featured an article on bitters talking with Joe Fee and about Regan’s Orange bitters.

Coincidentally, I’d been reading through Baker’s “Jigger, Beaker, and Glass” and decided I would give making his “Hellfire Bitters” a try.

This is my take on it. So far it smells quite nice. I’m not exactly sure what kind of peppers I used. Some sort of bird chile, I believe. The small, festively colored and very hot ones that are available here in late summer and fall still attached to their little bushes.

Hellfire Bitters a la Charles Baker Jr.

2 Cups Very Hot Chiles
2 Cups Vodka
2 TBSP Molasses
2 Limes (Quartered)
1/2 tsp. Cinchona (Quinine) Bark Powder
8 Allspice Berries, Crushed

It all goes in the blender and then into a sterilized jar to age for a couple weeks, shaking periodically. Squeeze through cheesecloth and bottle.

Anyone else experimented with making their own bitters?


Ah, way back in 2005, when making your own bitters was something a little unusual! So young! So innocent!

Here’s the actual recipe from Charles Baker Jr’s Book, “The Gentleman’s Companion”.

“HELL-FIRE BITTERS or CAYENNE WINE, another Receipt from the Island of Trinidad, in the British West Indies, and Now and Again Used in Gin-and-Bitters, & Other Similar Sharp Drinks instead of routine Bitters by Stout Englishmen with Boiler Plate Gastric Linings

“This is an old, old receipt dating to 1817 in print right here before us–and likely long before that, because the British knew Port of Spain a century and a half before. In fact we have just been diving up coins, cannons, shot, crystal goblets and other miscellaneous relics from HMS WINCHESTER, 60 guns, 933 tons, commanded by one John Soule, and while bound from Jamaica to England, sank in a gale on a certain coral barrier reef, 24th September 1695–and have the loot to prove it–And photographs; and cinema film.

“This Hell-Fire Bitters is an excellent cooking and seasoning sauce for fish, salads, soups and meats, when mixed half and half with strained lime juice and stood for 2 wks in an uncovered bottle, before using–a fact which has been disclosed in Volume I.

“Pound up 2 cups of scarlet round bird peppers, or small chilis or cayenne peppers. Put in a saucepan with 1 cup of tart white wine; simmer up once and turn everything into a pint jar, add 1 cup of cognac brandy and seal jar tight. Let steep for 14 days, strain through several thicknesses of cloth and bottle for use. When used solely for seasoning food, put everything through a fine sieve. These peppers have a vast amount of flavor in their scarlet skin and flesh, entirely aside from the intense heat of their oils. Seeds fro their home growth in ordinary window boxes, flower pots, or rusty tin cans!, may be bought at any half-way seed store. If no fresh peppers are possible simply stir 1/4 oz of ground cayenne pepper into the wine-brandy mix. Claret and brandy, claret alone, sherry and brandy, sherry alone, and brandy alone, are also authentic steeping fluids. Actually it is not a “bitters” at all unless a little chinchona bark is added–and 1/2 drachm or so is plenty, strained out at the last along with the pepper pods.”

And here’s a similar recipe, based on my earlier one. I like to use overproof rum and some spices along with the chiles. It looks like Neyah White started adding coffee to his version of Hellfire Bitters when he was at Nopa, (Mexican Standoff and Hellfire Bitters). Since he borrowed from me, I’ll borrow back from him. I’m leaving out the limes, since citrus wasn’t really a part of the original recipe.


Hellfire Bitters, 2013

1/2 Cup Birdseye Chile (using dried here), stemmed.
4 Facing Heaven Szechuan Chile Peppers, split.
4 Allspice Berries, crushed
5 Whole Cloves
1 Tablespoon Whole Coffee Beans
1 pinch Chinchona Bark.
1 Pint of Wray & Nephew Rum (or other similar overproof rum)

METHOD: Combine ingredients in a jar and allow to sit until flavor is well infused. Strain out solids.

Curious to see how they will work in the Carter Beats the Devil Cocktail.

3 Dots and a Dash

I’ve always liked the Rum drink called “3 Dots and a Dash” but never learned to make it.

A friend of mine, who also has a cocktail blog, wrote it up last week (Matt Robold over at Rumdood.com: 3 Dots and a Dash), so I figured it was about time I learned to make the damn thing.

A sort of Rum Punch, it is a delicious mix of potent rum flavors and drinkability.

3 Dots and a Dash

1 1/2 oz Neissen Ambre Rhum
1/2 oz El Dorado 5 Year Demerara Rum
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Orange Juice
scant 1/2 oz Honey Mix*
1/4 oz John Taylor Falernum
1/4 oz St Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram
1 scoop crushed ice (about 6 oz)

Blend or shake very well, until the outside of the mixing tin or glass frosts. Pour into a collins glass and garnish with a pineapple spear and 3 cherries.

*Honey Mix: Combine Honey 1-1 with warm water and shake to combine.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of 3 Dots and a Dash, so this Tabouleh will have to suffice:

I was looking through the fridge the other day and noticed I had a rather large, and totally forgotten, bag of uncooked bulgur wheat towards the back. Realized I hadn’t made Tabouleh in quite a while, so I figured now that tomatoes are starting to come into season, it would make a fine side salad for a roasted chicken.

Tabouleh is an interesting salad to play with, I’ve had them made all over the map. From basically all Parsley to almost entirely Bulgur. It’s sort of left to your interpretation. The mandatory elements, to me anyway, are: Cooked Bulgur Wheat, Parsley, Tomatoes, and olive oil. After that, the sky’s the limit.


Cook bulgur wheat according to the directions on the package it came in. Cool Bulgur, draining if necessary. Get out a large bowl. Finely mince a clove or two of garlic, pour in a couple tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice. Add a similar amount of olive oil. Chop your herbage and add it, being quite generous. Sometimes this dish is more an herb condiment than a salad. Chop a ripe and tasty tomato and throw it in with the herbs and garlic. Slice a green onion or two and add. Salt generously and toss to mix. Peel and chop a cucumber, (or other crispy vegetable,) and add. Toss again and check seasoning. Add bulgur wheat, maybe some crumbled feta cheese, and freshly ground pepper. Toss, allow to stand at room temperature for flavors to marry.

It is really easy to scale this up and down, it makes a totally classic hippie dish for a potluck. In fact, I believe, in certain cities, like Madison, WI and Berkeley, CA, if, through a bizarre set of coincidences, someone fails to bring Tabouleh as a “Dish to Pass”, all you have to do is close your eyes and say, “Tabouleh,” and it will appear on the table.

Mustachi-Ode West Coast Stylee

When Mrs. Flannestad and I were recently in NY, we stopped by momofuko ssäm bar for dinner.

After dinner, we traveled down the restaurant’s back corridor for a drink at their new bar space, Booker and Dax, known for its, “Cocktails you won’t make at home”.

From a New York Times Article, High-Tech Cocktail Lounge Is Opening at Momofuku Ssam Bar

Over the last few years, Mr. Arnold has won a reputation as the cocktail demimonde’s own Mr. Wizard, passing alcohol through a variety of elaborate gizmos and coming out with something purer, more potent, and arguably better on the other end. His experiments have influenced many modern bartenders, but Booker & Dax will be the first tavern where he’ll have direct control over the drinks program.

While I went with the safe choice of a bottled Manhattan, Mrs. Flannestad picked out the more adventurous Mustachi-Ode, described on the menu as follows.

“mustachi-ode – nardini amaro, becherovka, bourbon, egg-white, pistachio”

When she quite enjoyed the drink, I promised to do my best to make it at home.

Not knowing the proportions, I tweeted to the Booker and Dax account and, surprisingly, received a reply with a fairly exact recipe.

“1oz 101 bourbon .5 Becherovka .5 nardini .25 lemon 1 pistachio syrup (ours is centrifuged) ango decoration. Cheers!”

Becherovka is a Czech Herbal, well mostly spice, bitter:

Becherovka (formerly Karlsbader Becherbitter) is a herbal bitters that is produced in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, by the Jan Becher company. The brand is owned by Pernod Ricard.

Becherovka is flavored with anise seed, cinnamon, and approximately 32 other herbs. Its alcohol content is 38% ABV (76 proof). It is usually served cold and is often used as an aid to digestion. It may also be served with tonic water, making a drink that is known as a beton (BEcherovka+TONic) (Czech for “concrete”).

Amaro Nardini is an Italian Amaro made by the Nardini Company, which is known primarily for its Grappas:

DESCRIPTION Digestive after-dinner liqueur with a pleasant and distinctive liquorice finish. Can be served straight, chilled or with ice.
INGREDIENTS Grain alcohol, bitter orange aroma, peppermint and gentian.
APPEARANCE Intense color of dark chocolate.
NOSE Perfect balance of aromatic components, intense scent of liquorice and mint.
PALATE Bitter, with an excellent fruit and herbal balance. A fresh impact of mint, the gentian offers a pleasurable finish of liquorice.
SERVING SUGGESTION A pleasant after-dinner drink, can be served straight, chilled or with crushed ice and a slice of orange.

Since I already had both Becherovka and Amaro Nardini in the house, the only real challenge here is the Pistachio Syrup.

Having had success previously (Orgeat: Tales Version) making Orgeat based on Francis Xavier’s Almond Syrup recipe, I figured I would simply attempt to apply his FXCuisine Orgeat Recipe to Pistachios.

Pistachio Syrup

137g Pistachio
274g Washed Raw Sugar
(process a bit in blender)
2 cup water

Bring to a near simmer (at least 140 F), cool and steep overnight.

Strain out nuts with a cheesecloth.

Add equal amount of sugar for every 1gr of strained liquid. Put the pot on a low flame and stir to dissolve sugar. Bottle, cool, and refrigerate.

I guess I see why they Centrifuge this, given the kind of unappealing brown-green color.

The only real problem is I don’t know the sugar saturation level of Booker and Dax’s Pistachio Syrup. If that “1” in the recipe means 1 Ounce, I think they must be making more of a “Pistachio Milk” than a Pistachio Syrup.

However, the Orgeat Recipe from Francis Xavier at FXCuisine is crazy saturated, so there’s no way a whole ounce is going to work.

Pistachio Syrup in tow, I lugged my bottles of Pistachio Syrup, Amaro Nardini, and Becherovka in to work at Heaven’s Dog for some experimentation.

After a few variation on the Booker & Dax recipe, this worked pretty well and got good responses from customers and coworkers:

Mustachi-Ode, West Coast Stylee
1 oz Old Bardstown Estate Bourbon (101 Proof)
1/2 oz Amaro Nardini
1/2 oz Becherovka*
1/2 oz Homemade Pistachio Syrup
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Egg White

Dry Shake vigorously for a few seconds. Add ice and shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass and apply Mustache shaped Angostura Decoration.

I think the next step is the Mustachi-Ode Flip! Though, by that point, maybe it should be a Van Dyke!

*The Becherovka used in this post was provided by an agency promoting the brand.

MxMo LIX: Industrial Pale Fizz (Part 2)

Continuing with the practical exercise from the previous MxMo LIX post.

I’ve experimented with compounded beer flavored beverages before, as in my Modernist Punch, but this is a more a la minute preparation.

From 7/13/11

But when Frederic called for “Beer Cocktails”, I knew I had to step it up a notch. First I infused California Single Grain vodka with roasted barley and Rye for 24 hours.

From 7/13/11

Then I added Cascade Whole Leaf hops and let it sit for another day.

From 7/13/11

I strained out the barley and hops.

From 7/13/11

Combined 1 1/2 oz infused vodka with 1 1/2 tablespoons Malted Barley Syrup. Man that stuff is sticky. Added a tiny squeeze of lemon juice and an egg white. Dry shook it for a few seconds. Added Ice and shook the crap out of it.

Strained it into a pint glass and topped up with soda water.

Hey, it’s kind of neat, the bubbles in the carbonation are forming little waves of froth floating up the liquid, almost like Guinness.

Uh right, what is that?

It is remotely beer-like, but maybe reminds me a bit more of an Egg Cream than a beer.

First you get the roasty taste of the grains, then the sweetness of the barley malt. Finishes with a nice touch of hop bitterness and then the annoying aftertaste of highly distilled alcohol from the vodka.

On the plus side, it is neither the worst cocktail nor the worst beer that I have ever drunk.

CUESA Shrub Class

A few days ago, I mentioned the CUESA Shrub Class that Aaron Gregory Smith and Jennifer Colliau are giving for CUESA.

The description site is now up and there’s a link to purchase tickets:

Berry Shrubs with Jennifer Colliau of Small Hand Foods & Aaron Gregory Smith of 15 Romolo

Don’t know what shrubs are yet? Visit the Ark, Oh Parched One… and read up about this almost lost (and recently revived) art. Then get ready to learn from bartenders extraordinaires, Jennifer Colliau of Small Hand Foods and Aaron Gregory Smith of 15 Romolo, they will share their recipes for vinegar-based shrubs using delicious seasonal berries during this hands-on class.

The class will learn all about shrubs, particularly pre-prohibition style traditional shrubs, taste already made shrubs, make 2 shrubs of their very own and learn about how to use them in cocktails. They’ll each take home 2 quart jars of their own shrub made with fresh seasonal fruit (apricots, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) and herbs from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Also includes take-home booklet. (and yes, non-alcoholic options – and samples- of both will be available.)


At this point, none of these Shrub recipes really make sense to me, even enough to try making.

Things I know:

There are two things commonly called Shrub(b). One is fruit (typically citrus) infused booze. The fruit infused booze is sometimes spelled “Shrubb” and may be traditional in the Caribbean (or West Indies). The commercial example of this is Clement Creole Shrubb. The other Shrub is a flavored Syrup. Sometimes this flavored syrup has added vinegar, sometimes added booze. Presumably the booze or vinegar is added as a preservative, so the Shrub can be bottled for later use.

I guess the Rum Shrub below sounds vaguely like the process I’ve heard for the Caribbean (West Indian) Shrub(b), whole fruit aged with booze and sweetened.

The other recipes are interesting mostly for their complete lack of fermentation or vinegar, two things I had previously assumed to be necessary for the other style of Shrub. They basically seem like prepared cocktails, or flavored syrups.

I’m going to do some more research and attend an upcoming class that Jennifer Colliau and Aaron Gregory are giving at Cuesa.

CUESA & UKSF Class: Shrubs!Aaron Gregory Smith of 15 Romolo and the SF USBG! Thursday, June 23, 2011, 4:00 PM – 11:00 PM.

Hopefully, afterwards, Shrubs will make enough sense that I can get down with some Shrub related projects this summer.

I keep thinking a Rhubarb Shrub(b) might be fun…


Brandy Shrub
To the thin rinds of 2 Lemons and the juice of 5, add 2 quarts of Brandy; cover it for 3 days, then add a quart of Sherry and 2 pounds of loaf Sugar, run it through a jelly bag and bottle it.

Rum Shrub
Put 3 pints of Orange Juice and 1 pound of loaf Sugar to a gallon of Rum. Put all into a cask, and leave it for 6 weeks, when it will be ready for use.

Currant Shrub
1 Pint of Sugar.
1 Pint of Strained Currant Juice.
Boil it gently for eight or ten minutes, skimming it well; take if off and, when lukewarm, add half a gill of Brandy to every pint of Shrub. Bottle tight.

White Currant Shrub
Strip the fruit, and prepare in a jar, as for jelly; strain the juice, of which put two quarts to 1 gallon of Rum, and 2 pounds of Lump Sugar; strain through a jelly bag.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.