The Bubbly Horse Bourbon Cocktail

Shrubs Aren’t Just for the Yard!

Shrubs are the trendy new ingredient for craft cocktails.  They come in many exotic flavors and are considered the building blocks of the craft cocktail.  Herbs and interesting non-traditional cocktail ingredients are combined with a base of acid that gives an intense flavor profile.  You can serve them with your favorite spirit or without!

Many times the acid that is used as the base of the shrub is apple cider vinegar, which is all the rage!   I have been making my own version of shrubs for years.  I drink a concoction of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice every day.  I can’t tell you that it’s not really tart and sometimes makes my eyes water, but I will tell you that I can testify it helps in a variety of ways.  Whether you use it for building immunity, curbing hunger or helping reduce inflammation, vinegar should be a staple for everybody.  It’s cheap and amazing!

I received a really cool Christmas gift this year.  It was a selection of pre-made shrubs.  My friend has been using these for a while in her mocktails, so I was really pleased to have some of my own.  You can be so creative!

Pre-made shrubs
My awesome new shrub collection!

I have seen shrubs listed on drink menus and they always sounded so exotic.  Flavors such as Pineapple Habanero, Blood Orange, Ginger-Lemongrass, Cranberry & Rosemary all sound so interesting!  Ingredients such as rosemary, black peppercorn, and cinnamon are not usually typically found in cocktails.  You can use them in the winter or lighten them up with fruit for a great summertime cocktail.

Recently I was in Atlanta for business.  Atlanta is a happening town, there are so many dining options.  From traditional southern cuisine to seafood restaurants, Atlanta has it all to offer.

Storico Fresco Alimentari e Ristorante
One of my favorite restaurants in Atlanta Storico Fresco Alimentari e Ristorante

I found a fabulous Italian restaurant.  The restaurant Storico Fresco Alimentari e Ristorante was so good.  It not only has a creative and innovative food menu, but also a cool craft cocktail menu.  Storico is located in Buckhead and also sells fresh pasta and a variety of food items.  The food and the atmosphere impressed me, but also the staff.  They were all so helpful and nice.  You should definitely check it out!

When I was reviewing the menu, a craft cocktail caught my eye.  The cocktail was called Fox and Hound and it contained bourbon, blood orange ginger shrub, lemon, and Japanese chili lime bitters.  Wow!!  It was so delicious.  I wish I had another one as I’m writing this!

Fox and Hound Craft Cocktail
The Fox and Hound Cocktail photo courtesy of Storico Fresco Alimentari e Ristorante

When I arrived back home, I decided to invent my own craft cocktail with one of my new shrubs.  Of course, I named my cocktail The Bubbly Horse.  It was awesome!

The Bubbly Horse Bourbon Cocktail
The Bubbly Horse Cocktail

The recipe I used is as follows:  2 ounces of bourbon (I used Rabbit Hole because it’s one of my favorites), 1 ounce of spicy ginger shrub, and 1 ounce of club soda.  I garnished with a fresh orange peel, and of course, I used a fabulous cocktail glass!  The.Best.Ever!

Ingredients for the Bubbly Horse cocktail
The Bubbly Horse Cocktail

Shrubs can be purchased from places such as Amazon or you can also make your own.  Be creative and use whatever fun ingredients you would like!  Here’s a basic recipe for the shrub base according to The Spruce Eats:

Hot Method

The hot method is the most popular way to make a shrub and it is very easy. Some people prefer to begin by making a simple syrup of water and sugar. They will then add the vinegar after cooling and just before bottling.

Heat equal parts of sugar and vinegar on the stove, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. (Adjust the ratio to taste.)

Add fruit and any herbs or spices and simmer to release the juices and flavors into the syrup.

Cool the mixture.

Strain out any solids through a double layer of cheesecloth.

Bottle into a clean glass jar and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for two to four days. More sugar or vinegar can be added to taste.

Cold Method

Many shrub makers have experimented with cold methods for shrubs. While there are a few different approaches you can take, this is a basic method.

Use one part each fruit and vinegar and add them to a jar with a tight-fitting lid.
Shake vigorously for about 20 seconds and then allow it to infuse at room temperature for about a week. Give it a good shake once a day.

Strain out the solids through a double layer of cheesecloth and pour into a clean glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Add one part sugar and shake until it is completely dissolved.

Refrigerate for about one week (more or less time to taste). More sugar or vinegar can be added to taste.

Pineapple and Jalepeno shrub cocktail with Castle and Key vodka
If you’re feeling creative make your own shrub! Pineapple and jalapeno shrub mixed with my Castle and Key vodka!

I was feeling creative so I wanted to try making my own shrub.  I settled on a pineapple and jalapeno shrub for my new Castle and Key vodka.  It was super easy and really good.  This will be an awesome cocktail for the patio and warm summer nights!  Here’s how I did it:

Combine 1/2 cup honey, 1 jalapeno, 1 cup fresh pineapple and 1 cup of apple cider vinegar.  I brought the mixture to a boil and then let it simmer for about 20 minutes.  I used my potato masher to be sure that all the flavors were released from the pineapple and the jalepeno.  After it was done I strained the mixture and it was ready to use!

Most cocktails that I have found use the ratio of 2 parts liquor to 1 part shrub and 1 part seltzer or water.   When using the fruit only version it’s a 1:1:1 ratio.   I prefer club soda in my drinks, it gives it some fizz.

Good luck inventing your own shrubs and cocktails!  If you send me a photo of your cocktail I may use on my Instagram account and tag you.  Until next time xoxo.




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