How to Make Simple Shrubs (We’re Not Talking About Gardening)

What once was old is new again … again. Shrubs—Colonial-era drinks made from vinegar, crushed fruit, and sugar—are trending as a light and refreshing sweet-tart solution to summer’s heat.

While a typical soda has 9-plus teaspoons of sugar per serving, a shrub often has less than half that (depending on the mixologist). Plus, shrubs are simple to make at home, and when you’re finished you have a beautiful syrup that captures the season, says Gillian Helquist, food and beverage manager at the Shed in Healdsburg, California. It takes some planning, but the recipe below creates enough cold-process vinegar syrup for 10–20 shrubs so you can enjoy one whenever the craving strikes.

See also Strawberry Mint Sparkling Drink

Crush or muddle 1 cup fruit (any type—your choice!) in a large bowl. Add 1 cup sugar and 1 tbsp fresh herbs like mint or thyme. Cover and let macerate for three days at room temperature, stirring occasionally as syrup surrounds the fruit. Add 1 cup any type of vinegar. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator until the sugars dissolve, 1–2 weeks. Strain and reserve the liquid syrup, which is now ready to use, and discard the rest. Pour ½ to 1 ounce shrub syrup over ice and top with 6–8 ounces sparkling water, or add an ounce of liquor for a unique cocktail; refrigerate remaining syrup for up to 6 months. Or, you can order small-batch, seasonal-fruit drinking vinegars like pineapple and fennel seed from McClary Bros ($18, mcclarybros.com).

See also Summer Coolers