First impressions count for a lot. The first time you meet a person, the first time you hear a song, the first time you try a food – it colours every experience you have afterwards. Working in a bar, one thing I heared a lot was “oh god, I can’t stand that. The first time I had it…”, generally followed by a story involving a misspent youth drinking cider on the beach, or doing one too many tequilas in a night out.
The first time I tried gin, I was seven years old and I’d stolen a sip of a G&T from a friend of my mum’s at a New Year’s Eve party. I can’t say it was my favourite taste in the world, but I certainly went back for a second swig before being banished to bed. Ever since then, gin and I have been, if not partners-in-crime (rum probably deserves that title) then badly behaved friends.
I had a whole post about the history of gin, and some of my favourite gin cocktails, written out. But then my mum decided she wanted me to make her something with some apricots we found in the greengrocers, and thus this piece was born!
Whilst I love making infusions and syrups, I wanted to branch out a little today so I decided to make a shrub. Shrubs, or “drinking vinegars” (doesn’t sound quite so appealing…) are a good way of preserving fruit in sugar and vinegar, which appealed to me because sometimes I find the sweetness of syrups a bit limiting. It also appealed to me because it’s seriously simple, and I was feeling lazy!
Check out the recipe and my World Gin Day cocktail below!
So, chop up your apricots and add the same weight of sugar (I used brown but any would be fine.) Mix and mash together, then leave it in the fridge. I added a few sprigs of thyme at this point, and then popped back every hour or so to add a bit more, give it a stir and have a cheeky taste!
You can leave it for anything up to two days – I gave mine the amount of time it took to go out to dinner and then have a few cocktails from Papaji’s in Bristol.
When you take it out, it’ll look something like this: basically, not very pretty. Add your vinegar: I used cider vinegar, about 2/3rds of the weight of sugar I’d put it.
Blend the mixture together, then sieve it to remove the bits (I will admit to sneaking a few spoonfuls of the remaining sweet but tangy mush!).
And there’s your shrub! I ended up with about 125ml from 150g of apricots/sugar and about 100ml of vinegar. Next time, I’d probably double the quantities as I think this batch is going to disappear pretty swiftly.
1.5oz / 45ml Gin
0.75oz / 20ml Grand Marnier (you could replace this with triple sec or apricot brandy)
0.75oz / 20ml Apricot & Thyme shrub
0.25oz / 7.5ml lemon juice
2 dashes orange bitters (I used Mother’s Ruin cause they’re great in gin drinks)
Shake hard with ice, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a slice of apricot and a sprig of thyme.
And remember, guys – gin’s for life, not just for World Gin Day!