Take full advantage of Northern Michigan’s black raspberry season with this non-alcoholic Last Call mocktail recipe.
Over the last decade, shrubs—or drinking vinegars—have flooded grocery store shelves, haute cocktail menus, national food magazines and health food stores. This combination of vinegar, sugar and fruit is lauded for the health benefits of sipping vinegar, for the tang and zip it can lend a cocktail and for the kombucha-like complexity it offers those who don’t want a cocktail at all. Detroit’s McClary Brothers helped fuel the national renaissance of this Colonial-era concoction with their 2012 debut and still produce several Michigan-made flavors that are worth seeking out today. Making shrubs at home is also an option, especially for those of us who frequent the fruit belt.
Photo by Dave Weidner
In the summertime, we’ve steeped cherries, blackberries and even cucumbers in vinegar. Our favorite flavor, however, is one that also preserves one of Northern Michigan’s most cherished micro seasons—the few-week window when black raspberries are ripe. This month, when those precious, wild, black raspberries pop up in forests and farmers markets across the region, try your hand at flavoring vinegar with them by letting the two soak overnight. The next day, strain off the fruit, mix the stunning purple-hued shrub with club soda, pour it into that gorgeous flea market goblet you’ve been dying to use, and we promise it will look even prettier than the boozy choices you made the night before. We know how relentless a summer social calendar can be. Rough life, isn’t it? This recipe is perfect for that night off you’ve been telling yourself you need.
Black Raspberry Shrub Recipe
Makes 2 1⁄2 cups
– 1 pint black raspberries
– 2 cups apple cider vinegar
– 1⁄2 cup turbinado sugar
– Club soda, for serving
In a glass food storage container, or other non-reactive bowl, soak the black raspberries in the vinegar, covered, overnight. The next day, working over another non-reactive container, ladle the mixture into a conical strainer or colander to separate the liquid from the solids. Press the berries down with the back of a spoon to express as much juice through the strainer as possible. Using a chinois or finer mesh strainer to further eliminate any pulp, pour the liquid into a wide-mouth quart canning jar or small pitcher. Discard or compost the solids. Add sugar to the mason jar. Using a wooden spoon, patiently stir until the sugar has dissolved, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add ice to your favorite cocktail glass, pour 1 part shrub for every 4 parts club soda, and serve. Cover the remaining shrub and store it, refrigerated, until long after black raspberry season subsides.
Photo by Dave Weidner