Craft Cocktail Elixir: The Shrub

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Arriving in America from the UK during Colonial times, the Shrub, or drinkable-vinegar, has a lengthy history. Don’t tell me you aren’t intrigued about that vinegar part… I’m sure your imagination is bouncing from the woody plant to salad dressing, ours certainly was! That is unless of course you’re from the South or perhaps the Pacific Northwest, then maybe you stopped reading already and are headed to your trendy neighborhood watering hole.

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While modern “shrubs” aren’t common New England bar mixers (yet), they graced the palates of ancient Romans, Greeks,  & Samurai Warriors before skipping across the pond. A fun, and perhaps useless tid-bit, Colonial-era sailors brought bottles of it with them on their ships to avoid scurvy. How’s that for a throw-back to grade-school history?

On a more serious note, way back when, these drinkable vinegars started out as a way to preserve fruit and were eventually combined with sugar or honey for their own cocktails.

So what is a “shrub” exactly? To break it down, a “shrub” is a syrup of either fruit or vegetable (or both), steeped in vinegar, combined with cane sugar, and sometimes herbs or spices. Simply put, a tangy-sweet infusion that adds depth of flavor to a variety of cocktails and mocktails. The acidity of the vinegar balances any sweetness and sounds the gun for a healthy appetite while still quenching thirst. Interesting, right?!

Shrub & Co Grapefruit Shrub

Shrub & Co Grapefruit Shrub

I’m thinking these would be the perfect addition to any cocktail hour bar. The best part, they’re versatile.  You can mix them into sparkling wine, spirits, beer and even bubbly water appealing to both drinkers and non-drinkers.

Grapefruit Shrub and Voss sparkling water, lavender and grapefruit garnish.

Grapefruit Shrub and Voss sparkling water, lavender and grapefruit garnish.

Move over Italian Soda! The combinations are endless and these “shrubs” can be made right at home using local produce. Think peach & basil, blackberry & thyme, clementine & tarragon, raspberry and rosemary, and on and on.

For our clients who want to offer a unique signature drink at their next event, this might be your new go-to. Go ahead, break the rules!

 

 

Getting Posh with Poaching

Poach {To cook in a simmering liquid}

For some of us, the thought of poaching anything at home seems a bit out of the question. It sounds so tricky, doesn’t it? Time isn’t exactly in abundance this time of year either. I don’t know about you, but summers can be jam packed leaving little room in the schedule to experiment in the home kitchen. For me, that couldn’t be more true, but nonetheless, the mood struck. There I was, 8:30 on a Saturday morning, Sirius streaming some bluesy jazz, and a carton of farm fresh eggs staring me in the face.

You see, one of our savvy event specialists, Kristen Wich recently featured the most delicious sounding olive oil poached fish on a couple of her summer party menus creating quite the buzz around the office. After listening to the rave reviews come back from our clients, a few of us worked up a little kitchen-courage. Peggy successfully poached some eggs for her family at home and Kristen loved the fish so much that she gave it a go with great success. She highly recommends following this Epicurious recipe!

Since eggs Benedict happens to be a personal favorite breakfast indulgence, starting with the  poached egg seemed like the way to go. I’ll save the hollandaise for another kitchen adventure. Without Chef Crawford by my side, I decided to turn to Alton Brown for a little how-to.

Top with some smoked finishing salt and a crack of pepper, yum!

Top with some smoked finishing salt and a crack of pepper, yum!

 

Here’s how I did it if you would like to try this too!

Fill a wide shallow lidded pan with approximately 1.5″ of water and pre-heat until you start to see bubbles forming – a low simmer.

Add:

1 tbsp white vinegar

2 tbsp kosher salt

Meanwhile, crack your egg(s) individually into a ramekin or small bowl.

When the water is up to temperature, use a slotted wooden spoon to start a slow whirlpool in the water. Add your egg(s). Place the cover on the pan and set your timer for 3:5 minutes for a runny yolk or 3:75 for a slightly jelled center. Turn the heat off.

Note: Do not lift up the lid or budge the pan.

When the timer goes off, gently lift the egg(s) out of the water with your slotted spoon. That’s it!

As it turns out, it isn’t nearly as complicated as I thought!

Next, I’ll be following Kristen’s suggestion with a local and seasonal fresh catch of the day~

 

 

The Wild Side of Cakes!

A new trend to think about when picking out your wedding cake is a naked cake. (or birthday cake, or Tuesday night cake for that matter!) A cake without an outside layer of frosting or fondant is considered naked. (For the office… If someone licks the frosting off the outside, it is considered neked.) No worries frosting lovers, there are still layers of frosting and fruit between the layers of cake.
The naked cake lends itself well to a variety of different styles. With an abundance of fruits it would blend into any Old World styled event. For a garden party, a light cake decorated with herbs such as mint or lavender would work well.

For a Valentine’s treat you could have dark chocolate cake layered with caramel frosting and strawberries, of course. The list goes on and on. Pinterest Find!

When it is cold and blustery outside, I get the urge to bake! Not only does the house warm up, but it smells great too! During the snow this past week, I made a chocolate cake with layers of peanut butter frosting…

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The style of a naked cake has a look and feel all its own. For the next party you have, consider a naked cake. These cakes can add a natural and organic feel to any event. For a rustic styled wedding this would be paramount. If that’s not rustic elegance, I don’t know what is!

~Trish