by Grace Newcomb
“Assume Nothing!” A mantra for The Crown as we worked towards opening our doors in March of 2019, the phrase became a Menu section, encouraging our visitors to drop their preconceptions and be open to new and delicious experiences. And now it’s the title of a recipe series, for you to recreate at home. Here’s to a year of assuming nothing!
It’s that time of year when citrus is ripened, sweet, and in abundance at local farmers’ markets all over California, and what better way to celebrate and support other than making a refreshing beverage? Why not get wild and make a shrub, and then add some bubbles?
This past fall one of our baristas here at The Crown created an iced Americano that was reminiscent of a classic Bloody Mary. Sadly, it is no longer on the menu, but it did get me thinking of some other potential “cocktail” inspired beverages. I love floral and herbaceous flavors, and so I thought a sparkling shrub that reminded one of a zesty negroni would be so nice for spring.
For ours, we started with Ruby Red grapefruits and Moro blood oranges from our friends at Brokaw farms, then added bittering roots (gentian, rhubarb, and angelica) and spices (juniper) found in Campari and gin to add an herbal element reminiscent of the beloved Negroni.
The shrub itself is essentially a syrup that you get by drawing out liquid from fruit/and or veggies by using sugar. Once you have your ingredients (fruits and veggies) chopped, and desired amount of sugar you then thoroughly mix both together. It’s important to make sure all initial ingredients are fully coated in sugar, as well as stir twice daily during the maceration process since separation can occur. Once you have your mixture, then you just let it sit until you have enough liquid to begin the next step. We initially anticipated letting ours sit for about a week but decided three days was plenty of time. Once you have your syrup all you do next is drain the fruit, add your desired herbs, spices, and vinegar, then cover and let sit to begin the infusion process. I feel like the amount of time used for this step is totally up to you, and tasting as you go can help you decide. The very last step is simple, just drain the herbs and other solids from your batch, then you have a shrub! All in all, making a shrub is pretty simple, from gathering the ingredients to creating a recipe.
Here is the recipe:
We chose to macerate the fruit and sugar to draw out the juice. We recognize there are other methods for making shrubs. This is how we do it at The Crown.
First and foremost, stop into your local farmers market. Chances are the market is brimming with citrus right now. We recommend Ruby Red grapefruits and Moro blood oranges, but feel free to improvise.
Step 1: Sugar Maceration
- Remove the rind from the citrus. We recommend removing the top and bottom and then cutting the outside rind off the way you may remove the rind from a melon. Zest a few of the fruits before you remove the peel. The zest will help with the wonderful acidity and bitterness you get in the final drink.
- Once all the peels are cut off, cube the fruit into about .5 in x .5 in pieces. This will help the sugar draw out all the juice.
- Weigh your fruit to determine how much sugar you’ll need.
- Weigh out 40% of the weight of the fruit in sugar.
- Mix the sugar and fruit thoroughly.
- Let rest for 3 days, stirring twice a day to incorporate the sugar.
Step 2: Vinegar and herbs
- Line a large strainer or colander with cheesecloth and strain the syrupy juice from the fruit. We recommend letting it sit for 20 minutes to strain. After that, tie up the cheesecloth and press out the remaining juice.
- Weight out the juice to determine how much vinegar you’ll need.
- Weigh out 20% of the juice’s weight in vinegar.
- Stir the vinegar into the juice.
- At this point, you’ll also add your steeping herbs and spices. Ultimately you shouldn’t need more than 5 grams of each if you’re making a smaller batch. 10 grams if it’s a larger batch. For our shrub we used:
- Gentian Root
- Rhubarb Root
- Angelica Root (This one is especially Campari-esque. Go a bit heavier on this one)
- Smashed Juniper Berries
- Dried Lemon Rind
- Let steep for 2 days with the herbs. Afterward, strain again through a cheesecloth and let the final shrub rest in the fridge. Feel free to begin drinking at this point, but you’ll find the flavor changes and evolves over time. We loved ours after it sat for a week.
From here, add sparkling water or any cocktails for a wonderful dose of citrus and herbs!
Check out the Assume Nothing series, and if you are in the Bay Area, stop by The Crown to taste the seasonal signature beverage.