how to make cocktail drinking vinegars: blackcap raspberry shrub + two cocktails

blackcap raspberry shrub by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

Some people call me Huckleberry Hound. When fruiting season pops in the mountains, you’ll find me scanning the thick forest understory with berry eyes on. I love huckleberries, but truth be told, I’m easily wooed by any and every berry I’ve ever tasted, and those dazzling gems of the Rubus genus never fail to charm me.

A love of wild berries has inspired some local farms here in Eugene to grow untamed species and offer them up at the market. Like seeing an old friend, I was excited to spot one of my favorite berries a few weeks back, glistening darkly from the farm stand. Rubus leucodermis or Blackcap Raspberry is a native perennial that can be found growing erect and armed in fields, canyons, wooded hills, and lower mountains across the West, from Montana to Washington and south through California. You can identify a Blackcap pretty easily in fruit once you’ve tried them, and also by looking at the underside of the leaves for a light grayish to white tomentose or frosted appearance, which is in stark contrast to the vibrant, crinkly green leaf tops. You might also come across a “primocane” which is a new shoot of the bramble with a glaucous or silvery color to the branch.

rubus-leucodermin-drawing

Blackcaps boast a heavy earthiness that adds an almost perfumed complexity to the subtle sweetness of the fruit’s sugar. The experience is very different from common raspberries, offering more of the deep wine-like flavors found in almost-too-ripe blackberries. Blackcaps are also quite seedy and require some serious flossing and toothpicks after a gorge out session, so I decided to brainstorm some other appropriate uses for these beauties.

Several years back while tripping around Portland, Steven and I wandered into a super cool at the time, but now closed craft cocktail bar serving all sorts of fancy drinks in fancy glasses with fancy shaped ice. I ditched the classics and ordered something unfamiliar and perplexing. Booze with fruited vinegar. This was at the beginning of what would soon become a meteoric rise in popularity of something called a shrub or drinking vinegar, and with good reason.

People have been imbibing these sour syrups since at least colonial times in the US and around the world for centuries. Evolving from a medicinal preparation of herbal infused vinegar, today we enjoy them mixed with bubbly soda water or swirled into cocktails for a tart bite. You can use just about any combination of fruit, herbs, and vinegar to create a shrub, as well as experiment with sweeteners like white sugar, brown sugar, molasses, or honey. I like to taste each component first to figure out the different notes I want to highlight. Sometimes a bold vinegar like balsamic will round out the depth of black cherries, while a champagne vinegar can brighten more delicately flavored fruits and herbs.

 blackcap raspberry shrub by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

blackcap raspberry drinking vinegar 

There are several ways to make a shrub, but I like the cold process for blackcaps. I promise to cover the hot method in a future post! You can use this as a basic guide for any fruit you want to play with, keeping a ratio of 1:1:1.

1 cup blackcap raspberries

1 cup organic white sugar

1 cup organic champagne vinegar

Using a glass bowl or jar, mash the berries with the sugar and stir until well incorporated. You want to break the fruit membranes as much as possible and press out the juice until the sugar becomes totally saturated. Cover and allow the mashed fruit and the sugar to do their thing in the fridge for 2 to 3 days, shaking the jar when you think about it. The sugar will help further breakdown the fruit and draw out the liquidy goodness. Once a few days have gone by, pour the mixture through a mesh strainer to catch the seeds and press the fruit pulp to release all of the remaining juice you can get into the jar. Compost the seeds and pressed pulp. Now add the vinegar to your fruit juice and sugar solution and stir well to be sure the sugar dissolves. Allow to meld and mellow in the refrigerator for another week, shaking every day. No need to refrigerate after that unless you want to, since the shrub will be shelf stable.

 

blackcap raspberry shrub cocktail by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

fizzy blackcap cocktail #1

2 oz dark rum

3/4 oz blackcap raspberry shrub

1/2 oz dry sherry (we used Jerez Cortado Hidalgo 20 Anos)

1/2 oz fresh lime juice

1/2 tsp caster fine sugar 

dash of Angostura bitters

ginger brew

Chill a tall glass in the freezer. Fill a shaker with ice, add the first 6 ingredients, and then shake. Remove the glass from the freezer and fill with fresh ice. Strain contents of shaker into the glass filled with ice and top with ginger brew. Enjoy!

 

fizzy blackcap cocktail #2

1 oz white rum or Cachaça

1 oz dark rum

1 oz blackcap raspberry shrub

1/2 oz ruby port

1/2 oz fresh lime juice

dash of Angostura bitters

ginger brew

Chill a tall glass in the freezer. Fill a shaker with ice, add the first 6 ingredients, and then shake. Remove the glass from the freezer and fill with fresh ice. Strain contents of shaker into the glass filled with ice and top with ginger brew. Enjoy!

 

More shrub recipes:

Peach and Golden Balsamic Shrub

Huckleberry Maple Shrub

 

fizzy blackcap cocktail by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

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3 Thoughts on “how to make cocktail drinking vinegars: blackcap raspberry shrub + two cocktails

  1. Ooh, that looks delicious. Would it work with black cap puree?

    • i bet that would work really well! just strain it after a few days to remove any seeds or pulp that might be lingering.

  2. That looks delicious Erin!

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