A Plethora of Peaches: Peach Bourbon Shrub

September 1, 2015



It seems that I’m always a little behind the times, because when my August issue of Bon Appetit magazine came, announcing that the “hot” summer drink was The Shrub, I was like, “Uh, isn’t a shrub a bush in the backyard?”

What can I say?

Not only am I menopausal, I am completely un-hip. I’m pretty sure this is going to lead to a crisis of confidence and the purchase of something entirely ridiculous, like a cherry red mini-cooper or skydiving lessons or a floor-length chinchilla cape.

Kidding about the cape. I don’t wear fur. Don’t count out the other things, though.

According to Bon Appetit, “Shrubs are fruit-and-vinegar syrups to add to booze, soda or both. The acidic tinge [of the vinegar] brings out the fruit flavor without overloading on the sweet for a complex, easy-mixing cocktail.”

Those Bon Appetit folks are wise little stinkers–they sorta had me at cocktail.

As luck would have it, a dear friend’s daughter was doing a school fundraiser, so I was looking at a box of 20 plump, fragrant, delicious organic Palisade peaches in my refrigerator. Palisade peaches, grown in the sunny, warm soil in Palisade, Colorado, are some of the best summer treats you’ll ever put in your belly. They only come once a year and they sell out fast. Not only do you have to be quick with your purchase, you also have to be wily, because a lot of grocery stores advertise that they have Palisade peaches, but they’re lying, lying liars. They’ll sell you these teeny, flavorless, mealy peaches that are clearly frauds. Those douchepockets. Palisades are big suckers and heavy when you pick them up because they’re bursting with yummy peach goodness.

Fortunately, I got my hands on the real deal, and while I’m eating a lot of them out of hand as is, I’m also looking for other ways to use them. They’ve been delicious in breakfast smoothies and sliced over ice cream, but I hadn’t thought to use them in a cocktail until I stumbled on the Bon Appetit article.

I honestly wasn’t sure about the vinegar aspect of the cocktail. I can appreciate the acidity of lemon or lime in a drink, but vinegar? It sounded kind of weird.

I adjusted the proportions in the drink slightly because:

a) my peaches were super sweet naturally, so if you are using ripe, in-season produce, I think you should err on the 1 1/2 ounce side of peach simple syrup per cocktail, rather than 2 ounces.

b) 1 1/2 ounces of bourbon per cocktail seemed wimpy, since you’re serving it over ice. I went with two ounces. Then again, I’m a lush, so if you’re a lightweight, keep the proportions on the lighter side.

c) I added a splash of soda water to the drink for effervescence. I love me a fizzy drink. If you’re not a fan of the fizz, feel free to leave it out.

d) I decreased the vinegar by one half tablespoon, just because it kind of weirded me out. Frankly, I think 3 full tablespoons would be fine, but I like mine with the 2 1/2 tablespoons.


The Bon Appetit proportions are the first ones listed; my modifications are the second numbers.

The verdict?

I used my husband as a guinea pig because I’m a coward. In my defense, I did tell him about the weird vinegar aspect of the drink up-front. He was skeptical, and it took a few sips before he said, “I like it!” He took a couple more sips and said, “I really like it. It’s refreshing. It’s well balanced and you don’t think ‘vinegar’ when you drink it–there’s just something interesting there.”

This peach and bourbon shrub is just the thing for a hot, late summer day. If you’re throwing a Labor Day get-together, this would be a nice beverage, because it’s going to be brilliant with barbecue. Shrub on!




Peach-Bourbon Shrub

from Bon Appetit Magazine

makes 4


3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 pounds ripe peaches, cut into chunks

3 (or 2 1/2) tablespoons distilled white vinegar

6-8 ounces bourbon

2 ounces fresh lemon juice

a splash of club soda (optional)

ice and peach slices, for serving


Make the shrub syrup:

Bring sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan, add the fruit and return to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let stand for 30 minutes. Strain the syrup into a bowl. Stir in the vinegar. Refrigerate.


For each cocktail, place 2 (or 1 1/2) ounces of the shrub mixture, 1 1/2 (or 2) ounces bourbon and 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until frosty and strain into a glass filled with ice. Top with club soda, if desired. Garnish with peach slices.

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