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  • Writer's pictureDane

Drinks with Dane | Week 2

The most American of cocktails is probably something you’d least expect.

I am so touched that so many of you are interested in what I have to say about cocktails and are happy to let me tell you what to drink. Thank you for your support and please tag me @daneolson on Instagram or #DrinksWithDane so I can raise a glass with you!


An Ode to the End of Summer

Like most things we consider “American”, shrubs and their cousins, jun, kombucha and switchel originated outside of the United States. The word shrub is derived from the Arabic word “sharāb”, which means “to drink.” Popular in hot climates spanning the globe, concentrated fruit syrups mixed with sugar and vinegar would be made and then used as a mixer in various beverages - both medicinal and recreational. Middle Eastern varieties could include quince, grapes, or mulberries with Chinese varieties often utilizing ginger, citrus and pears or just a fermented tea. There’s even a biblical passage mentioning a mixture of sweet wine and vinegar drunk during the hot months of the year.

Shrubs and switchels have always been enjoyed by everyone at every level of the economic ladder. From Harvard students who used switchel as a mixer for their rum, those more interested in moderation, and those doing hard labor on sailing vessels and in fields, switchel was especially popular during the early 1900’s because it was both mixer and hydration. Little House on the Prairie fans may remember Laura being incredibly thirsty while hay-making during The Long Winter and “Ma’s Ginger Water” being the thing that quenched her thirst.

Ginger was introduced to American shrubs as an aid for indigestion and pre-bottled shrubs and kombucha have seen huge resurgence in the American beverage industry over the past 10 years. We’ve recently come full circle with high-alcohol kombucha and seltzers becoming easily available and highly desired alternatives to the craft beer category.

There aren’t a whole lot of cocktails more refreshing than a shrub. The carbonation carries the aroma of fruit and herbs to your nose as you drink it. The acid creates a mouthwatering sensation, a sort of juiciness balanced by the sweetness and a touch of sugar. Then you have your spirit (if you choose to add one) that adds complexity and depth or enhances and balances the sugar and acid. Finally, you’re drinking this lovely cold beverage and actively quenching your thirst. It’s perfect on these last hot days of a very long year.


Cocktail of the Week: The Badger Summer

I’ve created a cocktail that I feel captures the warm late evening September sun with just a hint of cool breeze: The Badger Summer.

This one has mostly familiar ingredients with a slight nod toward tiki. Falernum is a Caribbean spiced simple syrup flavored with lime peel, almonds, clove, and allspice. While there are many commercially available, for this cocktail I suggest John D. Taylor's - produced by Foursquare Distillery in Barbados. It is soft, richly spiced and ginger forward. I promise you’ll use it for some of our Autumn and Winter cocktails - and plenty more once Summer rolls back around.


What You’ll Need

  • Rye Whiskey

  • Lemons

  • Fresh Strawberries

  • White Balsamic Vinegar (sub Champagne or Apple Cider)

  • Sugar

  • Falernum

  • Angostura Bitters

  • Soda Water

  • Mint

  • Citrus squeezer

  • Sealable 3+ cup container - like a mason jar

  • Fine mesh strainer

  • Measuring Cup


Strawberry Shrub

To make a strawberry shrub, you’ll need strawberries, light vinegar (I used white balsamic, but a good quality apple cider, champagne, or white wine would also work) sugar, a small airtight container - I used a mason jar, and a strainer.

First chop about one cup of strawberries and place them in the mason jar. Add one cup of sugar to the jar. Cover with the lid and lightly shake to ensure the sugar is as evenly distributed as possible. Let sit for one day.

The next day you will see the sugar has started to absorb the moisture from the strawberries. This is because sugar is hydrophilic and will draw out any oil or moisture in the strawberries. This is, in effect, an oleo saccharum (sugar oil).

Add one cup of vinegar to the jar and let sit for another day or two, mixing occasionally. Once the mixture has been sitting for a day, strain it with the fine mesh strainer and cheesecloth or coffee filters (depending on how filtered and clear you want your shrub to be). This is shelf stable and will keep unrefrigerated, for several months.

The Badger Summer

serves 1

2oz Rye Whiskey - I used Sazerac Rye

1oz Strawberry Shrub

¾ oz John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum

½ oz Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

2 Dashes Angostura Bitters

3oz Topo Chico Soda Water - Always get the glass bottle!

In a shaker tin combine all but the Topo Chico and shake with ice until the tins are frosted. Fill a Collins glass with ice and pour in the Topo Chico. Strain the shaker into the Collins glass and stir to combine. Garnish with mint and strawberries. Salute!

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