I can remember the first time I was introduced to the most delicious & refreshing fruit vinegar beverage, better known as shrub. It was a typical mid-summer Alabama day and hotter than blue blazes outside. After spending hours swimming in the falls and froliciking in the sun, a group of friends and I ventured back to my friend Julien's cabin. While listening to cicadas and resting on the front porch, Julien shared with us a drink that I'll always treasure. He mixed up a batch of fuzzy strawberry shrub and topped it off with a touch of seltzer. I came to find out that the shrub recipe had been a family tradition that his mother and grandmother have been making for generations. Julien's mom, Meredyth Archer of MOTHER shrub took time to answer a few questions and gives insight into the wonderful world of shrub. Enjoy!
How did you get started making MOTHER shrub vinegars?
I came across a recipe for a fruit vinegar in a family cookbook from the late 1800s and decided to make a batch. I used to drink vinegar with my grandmother and the recipe reminded me of her. It tasted so refreshing and familiar that I became hooked and started making shrubs out of every fruit I came across.
Are the recipes that you formulate based on tradition or by experimentation?
Both! I think about what flavors might work and try using different amounts of sugar and vinegar. I like more vinegar and less sugar so my recipes tend to lean that way.
Do you forage any wild foods for ingredients?
I do sometimes. We recently were in the Shenandoah Mountains and picked wild wineberries. My husband was thinking ice cream. I thought shrub. They are a beautiful red color and make a delicious shrub .
Julien told me that he grew up roaming the woods in search of wild mushrooms. Is this a family tradition? What other family traditions do you hold close?
Taking family walks in the woods has always been a favorite thing to do. We forage for mushrooms, wild flowers, berries and bones. Fielding and I each grew up enjoying the outdoors so we shared that with our sons.
What are your personal favorite recipes to make with shrub?
Simple cocktails! I try to make it easy to add MOTHER shrub to any cocktail or mocktail. You don't need a lot of ingredients to make a delicious drink-usually just shrub and spirits topped with club soda or a splash of tonic. We also like shrub with seltzer- a simple thirst quencher.
Is there a refreshing drink or cocktail recipe that you would like to share on the blog?
A couple of favorites that are very simple-
1.5 oz each Cranberry shrub and Gin (Vitae Spirits Distillery in Charlottesville makes a delicious Modern Gin)
top with soda water
1 teaspoon of Jack Rudy tonic (optional)
Serve over ice.
The other is a drink that I love using Belle Isle Ruby Red Moonshine, another local distillery.
1.5-2oz Ruby Red moonshine
1.5 oz grapefruit shrub
Top with soda or tonic
Option- If using soda, add a teaspoon of Jack Rudy Elderflower tonic
Garnish with rosemary
When you're not busy playing with fruit and vinegar, how do you like to spend your time?
I love cooking, experimenting with new recipes, sewing. I like being outside-cycling, paddleboarding, swimming in the James River.
Does your community play a big role in Mother shrub?
I have received a lot of community support and am very grateful. I love doing my shrub tastings - I get to meet people and introduce them to something new! And I really love the positive feedback. Keeps me going!
MOTHER shrub is currently available in Richmond, Charlottesville and the Tidewater areas of Virginia; Charleston and Lewisburg, WV; Florence, AL; Toronto, Canada and soon in FL, CO, TX, NY, IN, TN, GA
find all of Meredyth's products online at: