For a Tangy Cocktail, Try Shrub

Mixers by Element Shrub are made and sold locally.

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Shrubs may be a relatively new trend on the bar scene, but these tangy mixers—made with macerated fruit, sugar and vinegar—were a popular form of fruit preservation in Colonial America, says beverage entrepreneur Charlie Berkinshaw.

Berkinshaw and his wife, Angela Hsu, first discovered shrubs while living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They belonged to a nonprofit group that foraged fruit from backyard trees, giving the property owners 10 percent of whatever they made with their yield. “We made jams, jellies, pies, cider, butters, you name it,” he says. “Then we started experimenting with shrubs.” The concentrated syrups can be used in cocktails, or mixed with club soda for a mocktail that’s a step up from the usual nonalcoholic offerings.

In 2014, the couple moved to Arlington (Hsu is a primary care physician) and Berkinshaw launched Element Shrub. The company offers eight vinegar concentrates (12.7 oz./$18.99) in flavors such as chai pear, blueberry-rosemary, cranberry-hibiscus and honeydew-jalapeño. There’s also a line of five shrub-based sodas called Shrub & Club (8.5 oz./$2.99).

Element Shrub products are sold at Williams Sonoma in the Mosaic District, The Local Market in Falls Church City, Cheesetique in Ballston and online at elementshrub.com.


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