Shrub You the Right Way
Reservations were closed for the night but walk-ins were welcome, so we set out to the Lower East Side in NYC to meet our friends at the Stanton Social.
This is a place I’d typically stay away from, because the description I had read started with “Celebrity chef So-and-So…” But this time, I was pleasantly surprised.
Once upstairs, it’s clear that we won’t be having dinner here. It’s crazy-busy. I text my pal Eric, then order a couple drinks while we wait.
Here’s where the pleasant surprise happens. What I thought would be a stressed and abrupt bartender turned out to be a pleasant woman with a deft hand for mixing classic and new cocktails. I go with a Negroni. Shelly peruses the menu, sees the Centennial and, despite it being a whiskey drink, orders one. One sip and she’s raving.
The secret to the Centennial is the shrub mixture, a very old bar ingredient that has seen a resurgence mostly in places where your barman may have a waxed mustache, arm garters, or both. The Centennial is light, fresh, and complex. I’d liken it to a potent Pimm’s Cup or a more interesting Presbyterian.
The Centennial (Adapted from the NYC lounge Stanton Social)
- 2 oz Stranahan’s Colorado whiskey (or your favorite bourbon or rye)
- 1/2 oz chamomile ginger shrub*
- 1/2 oz lemon juice
- Sparkling hard cider
In a high ball glass full of ice, combine the whiskey, chamomile ginger shrub, and lemon juice. Stir well and top with sparkling apple cider. Garnish with thin apple slice or lemon twist.
Chamomile Ginger Shrub
*A shrub is an infused syrup with a vinegar base. They can be easy or complex. We’re shooting for something down the middle with this one.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 1 chunk fresh ginger root, about 4 inches long, peeled and cut into 1/2″ chunks
- 4 chamomile tea bags, or 2-3 oz. loose leaf chamomile tea
In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar and vinegar over medium-high heat and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Add the ginger and tea and continue to simmer for 10 minutes until slightly reduced. Let cool, strain into an airtight bottle, and store in the refrigerator.
You can also add shrubs to your favorite lemonade recipe or simply serve it over ice and topped with soda water for a great summer non-alcoholic cooler.
All photos © Gary Allard, All rights reserved.