#shrublife (What to drink when you’re not drinking)

At some point in January 2017 I was flicking through old journals from 1.1.16 and found the following goals:

  • at least 1 day per week no alcohol
  • at least 1 day per week go to the gym

Then I cried.

I have reached the point in my life (again) where I am ready to start new, healthier habits. Drinking alcohol and having naps have become my main hobbies, and although I am genuinely passionate about beverage research and building a solid relationship with my mattress, there are more things I want to be doing with my life.


If you are also considering staging an intervention with yourself, or if you’re just one of those nice wholesome freaks who doesn’t drink alcohol everyday, you may be interested in an initiation to the world of Drinking Vinegars!

I was first introduced to shrubs through my place of work, and have been thrilled to find many recipes online, amidst myriad wholesome blog posts featuring pretty mason jars. The word shrub stems from the Arabic word “shariba” which means “to drink.”

One example cites 19th and early 20th century housekeeping manuals as a common place to find recipes, since shrubs gained popularity during the Temperance movement. Yes, 19th century housewives I feel your pain!

They are an economical and simple way to make a preserved fruit syrup, since the sugar and vinegar does most of the work and they require no cooking (yay!)

(Note: You can still add gin or whiskey or vodka and they taste very nice. Or rum… oh rum!)

I have stuck to the same basic recipe for various fruits; plum, strawberry, guava, feijoa. I don’t skin them, just wash and remove large stones, or top and tail them then slice in half. A little bit of natural fermentation is not a problem because the vinegar will kill any bugs. I normally use fruit that is available freely (i.e. growing in my backyard or obtained from a friend).

Plum and balsamic shrub

For the plum shrub I used balsamic as well as apple cider vinegar; with the other fruits I used only 2 cups of apple cider vinegar. The citrus peel can be added depending on the fruit you are using, such as orange peel with the plum or lemon with the feijoa. You can also add fresh ginger.


  • 4 cups of plums, halved and pitted
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • 2 pcs orange or lemon rind or ginger (optional)
  • soda water and ice (to serve)


  1. Muddle fruit and sugar in a large sealable jar with the peppercorns.
  2. Leave sealed for at least 24 hours, stirring daily. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the vinegars. Stir and leave 2-5 days for the flavours to infuse. Then strain through a sieve or muslin cloth. Keep the syrup refrigerated.
  3. (Sadly I have found no use for the discarded fruit besides a drink garnish, I guess you could try adding some to a fruit chutney.)
  4. To make your drink, pour a little syrup into a tall glass, add ice and soda water.


Good luck


Recipe inspiration credited to the blog post below:


#shrublife (What to drink when you’re not drinking)

When to admit you were wrong (Wednesday)

I just committed a heinous crime. It is made so much worse because I purchased what is probably the most beautifully labelled bottle of beer I have ever seen. It is adorned with a mermaid holding two full beer glasses, her seaweed-like hair swishing around and it is called “Punk’in Drublic”.

It is made by Coronado Brewing Company, California, an Imperial Ale aged in brandy barrels and brewed with pumpkin and spices.


A hefty 8% ABV it is a rich golden colour, smells and tastes as expected: sweet spices, fruit leather, barrelly tones. Now this is when I committed that terrible sin: I added lemonade.

My beautiful handmade craft beer, travelled across the ocean, placed ceremoniously on the shelves of Liquorland Newmarket, sitting in my fridge for a week waiting for an occasion to drink it (occassion: it’s a Wednesday) – and I turned it into a shandy.

See, the problem is that I don’t actually like barrel aged beers. I did a stupid thing and bought one cos I liked the name and the label. I’m sure we’ve all been here before. The last time was Moa’s Rum Barrel Aged Sour (a whole lot less drinkable than this one). It is not a bad beer by a very long shot, it’s just that I’m the wrong person to make a happy match. This is a view I have adopted lately of human relationships. Two people can be perfectly great as individuals but sometimes they just don’t work together in harmony.

So, if you do make this mistake with your beer selection, here are a few things to try:

  1. Try food with your beer. I happened to have some maple syrup & pecan cream cheese on hand (how convenient!) and this went very nicely with the beer. (Interestingly, my significant other uses this same “just add food” technique on me – I’m as sweet as pie as long as you remember to feed me frequently.)
  2. Take your time. Maybe your palate got a shock, maybe you need a bit of time to adjust to the bitterness, hoppiness, sourness or sweetness of the beer because it just wasn’t what you were expecting.
  3. Add lemonade. This is the most delicious shandy I have ever tasted.
  4. Admit you were wrong, and move on! Don’t suffer silently or say bad things about it. There are plenty more fish in the sea!
When to admit you were wrong (Wednesday)