Take a Cocktail Break & Try a Peach Shrub

Imagine sipping on vinegar on a hot August afternoon. Sounds gross, right? Not during Jefferson’s time! The vinegar-flavored beverage, better known as a “shrub”, was the drink of choice during the summers in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. The concoction often included soaking fruits such as peaches or strawberries in vinegar for around two weeks.

While shrubs may seem a drink of the past, they are reemerging in bars across America. Today, we give the colonial-era drink extra fizz and milder flavor by diluting it with sparkling water or ginger ale. In this particular shrub recipe, we combine Jefferson’s favorite tree fruit, peaches, and the staple herb of the summer, basil. Take a little time and give it a try. Who knows? This classic might be your new favorite!

peachshrub1Peach Shrub Syrup or “Drinking Vinegar”

1 pound peaches

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup white wine vinegar

20 fresh basil leaves, torn

Fresh lavender

  1. Cut the peaches into 1-inch pieces, removing the pit. Place in a nonreactive bowl. Add the sugar and toss until dissolved. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days. Check after one day to make sure the sugar has dissolved. If not, toss the peaches and sugar again and reseal with plastic wrap.
  2. Add the vinegar, torn basil leaves, and lavender and stir to combine. Recover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 7 days.
  3. Strain the peach mixture over a medium bowl with a fine-mesh strainer. Strain twice to ensure all the contents are removed from the liquid. Transfer to a jar fitted with a lid and store for up to 4 months.

peachshrub2Peach Shrub Summer Drink

Serves 1

1 cup sparkling water

3 ounces peach shrub

Splash of lime juice

2 ounces vodka (optional)

Basil leaf for garnish

Lime wedge

1. Fill large glass up with ice.
2. Add the water, peach shrub, lime juice, and vodka. Stir to combine.
3. Garnish with a basil leaf and lime wedge. Enjoy!

MonticelloRecipe_BlogKaty Woods is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she studied psychology. Though always an avid foodie, it was not until Katy came to UVa that she fell in love with the local food movement. Through an internship at Monticello during her third year at UVa, Katy was inspired by Jefferson’s ingenuity to cultivate crops and introduce French cuisine to the United States at the turn of the nineteenth century. Since this experience, Katy has demonstrated Jefferson-era recipes for the Heritage Harvest Festival and continued to adapt Monticello classics for modern cooks.



3 Responses to “Take a Cocktail Break & Try a Peach Shrub”
  1. Bonnie B says:

    I grew up with a grape shrub my Kentucky aunties made. Loved it. Also, the long-gone Evans Farm Inn (Va.) made and served a very nice shrub. I’m delighted to try the peaches version. Thanks for sharing! Please, MORE!

  2. Christine P says:

    I would also love a grape version! Love historical food posts. :-)

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