Cocktails with… Rigg’s Shrub

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So what is a Shrub? 
A shrub is typically a mix of fruit juice and vinegar or spirit, with the latter two being used as preservatives; sometimes, as in the case of Rigg’s, they use both. The name comes from “shiraab”, which is Arabic for drink or beverage. Shrubs first arrived in the Western World around the 18th Century. Although they were often used to preserve fruit flavours, today they are more commonly used for their flavour in making mixed drinks and cocktails.
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Rigg’s Shrub
The nose is of fruit: mainly berries, with a slight acidity,  and particular hints of blackcurrant juice and raspberry jam. There was a little leafy menthol, too.
The initial tartness on this was quite sharp. After this, there came the flavour of blackberries, which was rounded off with raspberry and some sweeter vanilla notes. Overall,  it was quite dry.
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March

First Fizz of spring
[20ml Vodka, 15ml Rigg’s Shrub, 10ml Elderflower, 100ml Bitter Lemon – BUILD]
In Spring, we’re undergoing a transition between the warming Winter Drink and thirst-quenching Summer Coolers. This drink has comforting jammy elements form the berries and the refreshing crispness from the bitter lemon. The elderflower flavours bring the two together and add some balancing sweetness. The vodka adds a bit of fortification.

April

Chocolate Cup
[30ml Brandy, 20ml Rigg’s Shrub, 20ml Mozart Dry Chocolate Liqueur, 3 Dashes of Aphrodite Bitters, 100ml Soda Water]
To taste, this was rather reminiscent of chocolate-covered berries or cherries. There was some fruit jammyness followed by rich chocolate notes and a very clean, bitter finish. It’s unusual to have an intensely chocolately drink without having cream, but here is one and it’s delicious!

May

Big Moustache Julep
[Gently rub fresh mint leaves around a julep cup, discard the mint and fill the cup with ice. Pour in  a mix of 40ml Bourbon and 40ml Rigg’s Shrub. Garnish with a mint sprig.]
May is Kentucky Derby Season and with the Julep Strainer invented to help Southern gentlemen (with their full facial hair), as well as the fine moustache on the Riggs bottle, this cocktail seemed to be a perfect fit.
I didn’t actually add any sugar to this, but I think that it worked well; the minty herbal notes are well matched with the shrub’s berries, and the sweetness of the bourbon balances out the drink. Tart, fresh and invigorating. More importantly, it tastes great.

June

Rigg’s Fruit Cup
[30ml Dry Gin, 20ml Rigg’s Shrub, 15ml Ginger Wine, 100ml Lemonade Garnish with Citrus fruit]
Great, refreshing but not too sweet the citrus fruit give the berry flavour a summery spin, easy to drink and rather moreish. This would work well with lots of summer fruit garnish served in a pitcher and shared among friends on a long summer evening.

July

Summer Shrub Punch
[400ml White Rum, 300ml Pineapple Juice, 300ml Orange Juice, 300ml Rigg’s Shrub, 100ml Sugar Syrup. Add ingredients to a small punch bowl and add plenty of ice.]
Cooling and fruity; there were distinctive hints of tropical fruits and it was quite smooth, despite some power from the rum. The Rigg’s flavours were still there, but took a less dominant position than the others; the shrub’s tartness gave the drink a vibrant, refreshing quality. With plenty of ice and served a big punch bowl, this would be a very suitable addition to lazy summer BBQ.

August

Summer Shrub Fizz
[20ml Dry Gin, 20ml Shrub, 20ml Sugar Syrup. Top up with Soda Water.]
This is a variation on the Gin Collins. Cooling and refreshing, with the berries giving a little hint of the season to come, a time of sloe gin and blackberry pie. A little squeeze of lime gave it extra zing, which was very pleasant. Overall, fresh and thirst quenching.

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September

The Monocle CocktailThe Monocle
[30ml Cognac, 15ml Rigg’s Shrub, 5ml Sugar Syrup, 3D Angostura, Orange Twist]

The inspiration for this came from the bottle’s label, where it mentions that early shrubs were often mixed with brandy or rum. The name, as you may have guessed,  is also inspired by the label.

Initially, warm fruity berries came through from the shrub. The warmth continues as the cognac starts to come through, followed by the orange from the twist. The finish is a mix of the vanilla oak from the cognac and the vanilla hints from the raspberry in the shrub. This is a pleasant, mid-autumn cocktail that both warms and refreshes.

October

Turn Back The Clock
[20ml Dark Rum, 20ml Shrub, 10ml Spice Syrup, 80ml Ginger Beer]
This cocktail is designed to be spicy and comforting, and both characteristics are easily found in the rum, ginger beer and spice syrup. The fruit shrub adds another layer on top of these flavours, giving it a slight tartness, but also stopping the drink from being too viscous. Make sure that you use a ginger beer with a decent amount of fire behind it and this can refresh and warm you at the same time. The sweet, spicy ginger beer flavours reminded Mrs. B of her childhood.

November

Pipe & Slippers
Quite an easy cocktail to make here.
[1pt Johnny Walker Double Black (or other smoky whisky), 1pt Rigg’s Shrub, 1pt Ginger Wine]
The idea behind this cocktail was to make something that was warm, comforting and easy to make. It requires no ice; merely pour the ingredients into a glass and give it a quick stir. I used a smoky whisky to represent the pipe tobacco.

The initial flavour was the tart berries from the shrub and a little smokiness; the middle feature was the warmth, sweetness and fire of the ginger wine; and the finish had an ongoing gingery warmth, accompanied by the peaty smokiness of the Johnnie Walker. Easy to make and very comforting; perfect for after a frosty, wintery walk.

December

Piping Hot
[20ml, 1tsp Runny Honey, 5ml Lemon Juice, 60ml Boiling Water, A pinch of Winter Spice (Nutmeg, Cinnamon etc.)]
Warming and slightly reminiscent of hot blackcurrant, but with a more intense flavour and a distinctly adult tartness. This tang is offset by the honey and the pinch of spice gives the drink a festive feel; just right for a snowy evening inside.

January

Rigg’s Fancy Fizz
[Place one small sugar cube (a few dashes of bitters are optional) at the bottom of a Champagne Flute, add 15ml Shrub and top up with Champagne or Cava.]
This is a rather tasty champagne cocktail; unlike something like a Kir Royale, it’s not too sweet and the champagne is complemented by the dry, fruity flavours of the shrub. The sugar cube stops the shrub from overpowering the wine and making the whole thing too acidic. A great way to see in the new year. *

February

Bitter Love
[30ml Brandy, 15ml Shrub, 50ml Cream – SHAKE]
You need to make sure that you shake this thoroughly to avoid it curdling, but if you do it right, you should end up with a smooth, light pink cocktail. Not bad; unusual, because it is a cream cocktail that is actually quite tart. The brandy gives it warmth and a little sweetness. The finish is of bitter, dark chocolate, which is rather bizarre. Mrs. B found the chocolate flavour very strong, despite the fact that there was no chocolate in it at all – we were both rather puzzled…!

In Conclusion
Rigg’s shrub is certainly a versatile ingredient and our two favourite cocktails were the Rigg’s Fancy Fizz and the Turn Back the Clock

Rigg’s Shrub is available for around £20 for 70cl from TheDrinksShop.com.

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About DTS

partial to a martini? to a smoke-hazed gin joint & a perfect tipple poured with the style, swank & skill of a true aficionado? …then pull up your stool to the bar, prepare to stock up your cocktail cabinet & get ready to drink it all in as we introduce you to a stitch in times’ resident barman… David T. Smith is a drinks enthusiast currently residing in the U.K. a long-time fan of tasting & exploring various types of alcohol, he has a fascination for vintage spirits and cocktails, in particular their heritage & origins; this was strengthened last year when he presented a talk and accompanying monograph on the Martini. it was as a result of his research of this topic that he was introduced to drinks paraphernalia, & he is now the happy owner of a colourful collection of bottles, books, and gadgets from a wide range of eras… an avid believer in the validity and variety of personal opinion, particularly in the subjective area of tasting, he enjoys hosting tasting sessions for friends, constantly challenging them to find their own favourite tipple. in addition to all of this, he is also interested in economics, three-piece suits, board games & keeping alive the art of engaging in enjoyable conversation with a good glass of port whilst surrounded by pipe smoke… www.summerfruitcup.com Thanks to Analiebe for writing this rather flattering blurb for me.

2 thoughts on “Cocktails with… Rigg’s Shrub

  1. It is an interesting drink category/ingredient. And surprisingly versatile. The February Cocktail was quite a pleasant shock. Vinegar and cream usually = curdle but with a good shake it was as smooth as any Alexander I’ve had. Creamy but not sweet, bizarre.

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