Looking for a fizzy, fruity addition to your next cocktail creation? Try shrubs.
No, not the bushes out in your front yard—shrubs are a fermented drink, similar to kombucha, that are the perfect addition to cocktails or even simple club soda. This lesser-known drink is handcrafted and cold-pressed in small batches by Rock Creek Shrubs, a small business out of Port Charlotte. Rock Creek Shrubs sells its drink mixes online and now weekly at the Phillippi Farmhouse Market, which starts Wednesday, Oct. 7, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
And though shrubs may be a trendy cocktail mix-in right now, the fermented drink got its start in 17th-century England, when people added vinegar to preserve berries and fruit in the winter. This practice migrated with the first settlers to Colonial America, where the concoctions were mixed with sugar and soda water to create a unique soft drink. Later, spirits were added to make fun cocktails.
The name "shrub," is derived from an Arab word "scarab," which means "to drink." The drink can be mixed with brandy, rum or any alcohol base. Or it it can be enjoyed as a "mocktail."
Rock Creek Shrubs is owned and operated by Julie Hadfield, a former Punta Gorda bartender turned shrub enthusiast. She makes all the flavors herself, and sells them at the markets across the Gulf Coast. "Using the cold press method, the shrubs sit for over a month to infuse the flavors," she explains. " This ensures that the good enzymes and protein strands, known as the mother, remain in the shrub, creating a healthier alternative to cocktails or craft soda."
Some popular mixes include the "A Wee Bit Shrubby" Bloody Mary mix, and flavors like pineapple-ginger, orange-cardamom, mango, strawberry-mint and now, pumpkin spice for the fall season. The company's website also features cocktails recipes to try at home.