Just as the hot weather started to roll into Chattanooga recently, a recipe for a lemon balm shrub appeared on Tant Hill Farm’s blog. This was a timely reminder of a great, adaptable and refreshing drink that can keep one quenched and cool all summer long. Most commonly referred to as a shrub, this beverage also sometimes goes by the namedrinking vinegar and is similar to the switchel.
The shrub is a fruit syrup, which is acid-based (the acid is most often vinegar, but sometimes fruit juice); usually sweetened (with sugar, honey or molasses); sometimes alcoholic (mixed with brandy, rum, champagne, sherry or vermouth); and often served mixed with water, soda or seltzer. They’ve been traced back to as early as the 15th century, but in America fell out of favor after Prohibition. They have enjoyed a huge resurgence in recent years (Michael Dietsch gives some credit for this to Tait Farm Foods, who started making shrubs in 1987, which were later discovered by Wall Street Journal columnist Eric Felten).