A New Rub on the Shrub & the Heirloom Tomato Cocktail

Cocktail Shrubs and flavored drinking vinegars have gained popularity over the past few years.   They are a concoction based on fresh fruits, boiled down in sugar and then dosed with liberal amounts of vinegar.  The vinegar sounds off-putting but it integrates well into the syrup and gives a tart flavor balancing out the sweetness of the fruit and sugar.

In the 18th and early 19th century, a time with no refrigeration, the Shrub was one way to preserve fruit to be enjoyed outside of its normal growing season.  It was added to water for a non-alcoholic drink that was in many aspects a pre-cursor to fruit juices from concentrate.  It also was mixed with spirits (most often rum) to make them more palatable.
There are a number of Shrub variations based on all kinds of fruit from stone fruits to citrus.  Today with Tomato season in full bloom we offer you a savory twist on the Shrub, using tomatoes as our base.  The recipe below creates this savory tomato shrub as the foundation to the Heirloom Tomato Cocktail.  While Heirloom tomatoes are preferred and will give you a very intensely flavored Shrub, any garden variety will do.  If you love Bloody Mary’s, then this is a must try recipe.
Tomato Shrub Recipe

  • Ingredients
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 lb. quartered Fresh Heirloom Tomatoes (seeds, skins and all)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar


Put sugar and water in a saucepan and boil until sugar is dissolved.  Add quartered tomatoes, reduce heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes.  Add vinegar and bring to a slow, simmering boil.  Boil for 15 minutes or until reduced by 1/2.  Cool and strain syrup (pressing out the tomatoes).  Put up in a sterile bottle.  Mix with your favorite spirit, water or club soda.  Keep refrigerated…and by the way, this makes a KILLER salad dressing base!

The Tomato Shrub takes to Vodka beautifully as well as Aquavit and Gin.  It is very versatile and also drinks well with Rye and Rum not to mention its ability to be used as a marinade or dressing with just a bit of personal doctoring.  Add your favorite Bloody Mary spices to the Shrub adding your own personal finishing touch.

Heirloom Tomato Cocktail

In a Shaker Glass Packed with Cracked Ice Add:

  • 2 Ounces of Vodka (We Like to Use St. George’s Chile Flavored Vodka for an Extra Kick)
  • 1 Ounce Tomato Shrub
  • Shake Like Crazy

Strain into a Short Tumbler (aka Rocks Glass) Packed with Finely Cracker Ice.  Top with a Splash of Club Soda or Water to Taste.  Garnish with a Cherry Tomato or Citrus Wedge.  Finish with a Few Grinds of Black Pepper.


~Add Any of Your Favorite Bloody Mary Spices such as Worchestershire, Horseradish or Tabasco to spice up your Cocktail

~Varying the type of Tomatoes you use will give your Shrub varied flavors.  You can also vary the type of Vinegar used to get different effects. Balsamic adds a nice dimension.

~Using Flavored Vodkas Adds layers to your Cocktails flavor profile. Try Infusing Basil, Citrus or Peppers in Your Favorite Vodka.

~ The Sky is the Limit when it comes to variations.  A great Bartender is also a great Chef.  Create and have fun!!!