MxMo LIX: Charentes Shrub

As soon as I saw the theme for this month’s Mixology Monday, I knew exactly which drink I was going to choose.  I had spied this cocktail as Imbibe Magazine’s Cover Cocktail Contest.  Besides looking as downright pretty as a Mardi Gras Indian, it combined two of my favorite beverage-ables – hoppy beer and odd homemade ingredients.  Plus, the recipe comes courtesy of a bartender from Worcester – Woostah! – so with the Masshole connection, how can you go wrong?

Host Frederic at Cocktail Virgin Slut chose Beer Cocktails, asking participants to -

“Find or concoct a drink recipe that uses beer as an ingredient. Discussing a glass of beer alone is best done elsewhere, but drop a shot of whiskey or gin in there for a Boilermaker or Dog’s Nose, well, now we’re talking. Feel free to use beer in a syrup, as the carbonation in a Fizz, or as the base “spirit” of the drink itself. Old like the Posset and Shandy or new does not matter. Modifying a soda or Champagne cocktail to a beer one?  Go for it.”

In addition to a hoppy IPA, this tall one calls for two homemade ingredients.  The first involves infusing Pineau des Charentes with Earl Grey Tea.  I had never heard of pineau before.  Its a fortified wine that comes from Western France, and is a combination of unfermented grape must combined with cognac, which is then aged in oak barrels.  I found it light and pleasant when chilled – not very complex, sweet, and easily drinkable, especially on a warm day.  I can see why old ladies in France drink it – for some, that might be considered a drawback.  But these days, in the era of mass produced lowest common denominator tastes, I’d say old French ladies probably know where its at.  Especially when you consider the kids are drinking Four Loko.

The second ingredient is a shrub.  Shrubs are generally a combination of fruit juice, sugar and either an acid (usually vinegar) or alcohol.  Erik at the Savoy Project has a nice run-down of some basics of the two different types.  Shrubs go back several centuries.  I’ve seen references to shrubs as a pre-refrigeration era means of preserving fruit for extended periods, being used as a summer beverage in the American Colonial period when mixed with water.  Regardless, they are a relatively easy way to add an usual twist to a cocktail while giving a shout-out to the historical antecedents of modern day cocktails.

It can take a while to get all of the ingredients together for this one, but its worth it.  It has a great combination of layers, while going down far too easy on a hot day.  You could knock these back like a six-pack of tall boys.  Which I guess is appropriate for a beer-inspired cocktail.

1 ½ oz. rye whiskey
¾ oz. Earl Grey-infused Pineau des Charentes
½ oz. rosemary-pineapple shrub
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Angostura orange bitters
2 oz. IPA

Combine all ingredients except the IPA.  Shake & strain into an ice-filled Collins glass.  Top with IPA.  Garnish with pineapple wedge and rosemary sprig.

Tea-infused Pineau des Charentes

Soak 1 Earl Grey teabag in half a 750 ml. bottle of Pineau for 1 ½ hours.

Rosemary-Pineapple Shrub

Slice a small pineapple and place in a jar and cover with cider vinegar.   Infuse for 4 days, shaking once a day. Filter through cheesecloth and bring 6 ounces of pineapple vinegar to a boil with 5 ounces of sugar.  Skim off top layer and add 1 sprig of fresh rosemary.  Boil for 10 minutes, remove from heat, filter and cool before bottling.

Recipe courtesy of David Delaney, The Citizen Wine Bar (via Imbibe.)

2 thoughts on “MxMo LIX: Charentes Shrub

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