Monday, October 24, 2011

Notes From A Shrub Tasting

After a brief absence, I am back for the forseeable future, to bring you more news from the fascinating, slow paced world of shrub making. 

A Myriad Of Shrubs 
Today I am going to refrain from writing up a description of a shrub that I've completed, so that I can tell you about my first ever shrub tasting, held in the humble confines of our apartment. The turnout was great, as were the fine folks who came to sample the wares. I believe the thing I was most proud of was continually being told that after tasting nearly every one of the 28 offerings(most of which are soon to be written up right here, so stay tuned), that it was still virtually impossible to declare a clear winner.

Despite this, it's always fun in any sort of beverage tasting to approximate the favorites. So without any real, solid scientific method, and further ado, I am going to attempt to relay what appeared to be the Best In Show, so to speak.

Based on the comments, I think first place would likely be a tie. First, we have Ernest, a grapefruit/savory shrub. For those unfamiliar with savory, it's a really nice herb that sort of comes off as a peppery sage with the hint of rosemary. As it turns out, grapefruit hearts savory in this shrub, whose clean tang is bolstered by a spicy herbaceous character. It was particularly enjoyable with a splash of seltzer. Equally beloved by partygoers was the ginger/ghost chile shrub called Frankie Teardrop. This shrub was a reaction to the common problem of weak ginger ales and ginger beers. Frankie certainly fits the bill if you're looking for a ginger drink that can actually bring the heat.

A close second was another citrus shrub, the lemon-rosemary dynamo named Lucrezia. Generally, I find that you can rarely go wrong pairing lemon with rosemary in almost anything, so it was little wonder that this shrub turned out to be one of the people's favorites. Lucrezia plays like a particularly intense rosemary lemonade, but that's a great thing in my book, and it seemed my sentiment was largely echoed by the tasters.

Third place is a bit of a hard call, but I think I'm going to have to go with 3 Faces of Eve. This was tough, as there were two apple based shrubs in the tasting, one being the 3 Faces of Eve, with its deep, apple pie flavor, as well as the newer, sweeter mulled apple shrub named Martin. Despite both being apple shrubs imbued with warm spices, I think the use of three very different cultivars of apples along with homemade brown sugar may have pushed Eve to a photo finish victory.

There were many honorable mentions that were passionately singled out by individual tasters, however. Among them were some of the more experimental offerings, such as Chakka Khan(pumpkin/kala masala), Bowery Babe(sweet potato/pumpkin pie spice), Give My Love To Rose(honey/rose/cardamom), Dale(coffee), and Elizabeth(heirloom tomato/berbere).

At some point, I'll be giving you more information on those shrubs that were mentioned, but not previously written up in the coming days and weeks.

In closing, I would like to not only thank everyone who participated, but my wife Sarah for being so patient with all those early Saturday mornings and especially for helping do nearly the entire preparation for the party. I appreciate it more than you know, and wanted to let you know(again), you're the best.

See you all soon with more shrubs!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi! I stumbled upon your blog last summer when I was just beginning to try out shrub-making, and I've found it an absolutely wonderful resource! I'm just thinking about how to make some fall-flavor-inspired shrubs in advance of Thanksgiving, and pumpkin is (of course!) on my mind. I see that you've tried both pumpkin and sweet potato shrubs. Any chance you'll be posting about those experiments here (or would be willing to send a short email detailing them? I feel like I have a sense of how to make fruit and spice shrubs, but I'm not sure about root vegetables and squash, and I would LOVE to see how you did this!