So. Freaking. Good.
I tried a few things when I visited Shearwater Tavern in Kihei (south side of Maui island). If you’d like to see my review of their Beer Braised Oxtail Poutine, click here. If you’d like to see my review of their limited-time special mocktail, the Raspberry Shrub, then stick with me. I’ll get there.
A shrub is a beverage that contains some sort of vinegar based fruit syrup and carbonated water. Some dispute the need for vinegar, some dispute the need for carbonated water. Whatever. In my eyes, a shrub is a soda with vinegar in it. The internet leads me to believe that shrubs were born out of the need to preserve fruit/berries past their natural freshness and were served as a cold refreshment in the days before refrigeration. Makes sense.
Shearwater Tavern in Maui has a gifted manager with a real creative talent in barkeeping. I’m basing that opinion off of one non-alcoholic drink he created, and I think that that’s enough. He described the process of preparing the Raspberry Shrub to me and if I’m not mistaken it involved these steps.
First he macerates raspberries with sugar and lemon zest to create a natural syrup. This is left for a day or two so that the flavors can develop, then he adds apple cider vinegar and leaves it for another couple days for the flavor to evolve. These steps can be modified with various other fruits and different kinds of vinegar, but the result is the same. There’s a tangy syrup kept at the bar that they combine with carbonated water and serve over ice.
The Raspberry Shrub I tried was tangy, perfectly sweet, brightly carbonated, and incredibly refreshing. It reminded me a bit of a freckled lemonade at a large fast-casual burger chain but 10 times more refined. The flavors have depth and the drink would compliment a wide variety of meals. It doesn’t overwhelm the palate and stays light on your tongue.
If Shearwater Tavern is still here making shrubs on my next visit (and by all rights they should be) it’ll be one of my first stops. The drink was about $3 and a total bargain in the craft beverage world. I give it a 9 out of 10 on my rating scale.
Sampled on May 4, 2017