This isn’t party food, but I think party drinks (especially alcoholic ones) also qualify for this month’s theme! I first heard of / tried a shrub syrup when I was doing an olive mill tour and tasting at Round Pond Estate in the Napa Valley. A shrub syrup is a fruit syrup mixed with vinegar (originally the vinegar was used to preserve the fruit), which sounds like an unusual combination, but it makes for a really refreshing drink, especially on a hot summer’s day! In addition to olive oil, Round Pond also makes their own red wine vinegar. On the tour, we sampled some food and drinks using their products, including a shrub cocktail using their red wine vinegar. Shrub syrups can simply be mixed with soda water, or you can also add alcohol to make a really tasty cocktail! We weren’t allowed to have alcohol on the tour (which is ironic since Round Pond Estate is also a winery) so I had to try making a shrub for myself to see what it would be like in a cocktail!
Muddle, add sugar and let sit at room temperature for a couple of days. Then add vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar) and either strain immediately and refrigerate for a sharper taste, or let sit at a room temperature for another few days before straining and refrigerating for a more mellow, slightly fermented taste (I prefer to strain the syrup straight away after adding the vinegar). The syrup will keep refrigerated for a few months.
I mixed my cocktails with vodka, but gin was also a crowd pleaser. The syrup can be made in advance for a party and mixed when guests arrive. There aren’t too many ingredients to combine (the flavor is all infused in the syrup) so it’s a quick cocktail to make if you’re playing host!I also packed a pre-mixed bottle for a camping trip and it went down very well in front of the campfire!
Recipe adapted from Strawberry Rosemary Shrub Recipe (I cut down on the sugar in the recipe by half)