Over the last year or so, I’ve grown to really enjoy a glass of cold sparkling water, especially when garnished with a few slices of lime or lemon. A local Portland restaurant is taking this drink to a new level by adding a delicious and unusual ingredient: drinking vinegars. Drinking vinegar has just a few ingredients: fruit, vinegar, and sugar. Luckily for me, I discovered they’re actually quite easy to make at home.
Drinking vinegars, or shrubs, as they’re sometimes called, have roots both in the colonial South and in Southeast Asia. Chef Andy Ricker of the aforementioned restaurant, Pok Pok, has popularized the trend here in Portland, offering Pok Pok Som in flavors such as tamarind, honey, apple, and raspberry at his Thai street food restaurant.
After purchasing a bottle of tamarind-flavored drinking vinegar and realizing just how tasty it is, I decided to experiment with a little pear-flavored vinegar. I’m making two batches now; one with apple cider vinegar and the other with distilled white vinegar. They both contain Green Anjou pears.
The recipe is simple: roughly dice and mash fruit. Add vinegar of choice (rice, white, cider, etc.) until fruit is covered. Cover the container and let sit for one week, stirring daily. Do not be alarmed by the smell or the sludge on top. (This sentence taken verbatim from a recipe in the New York Times.) After one week, strain liquid into a saucepan and add sweetener of choice (sugar, honey, agave syrup, etc.) Reduce by boiling gently for an hour. Strain again if desired, cool, and serve full strength as a cocktail mixer or diluted with soda water.
Next week, I’ll reveal the tasty fruits of my labor.