3 Things You Didn't Know About Shrubs (Drinking Vinegars)

Posted on January 08 2020

3 Things You Didn't Know About Shrubs (Drinking Vinegars)

What’s a shrub? These tasty drinking vinegars have been around for thousands of years. But where did they start?


1) The word “shrub” is actually derived from sharab (Persian) meaning wine or beverage, and shariba (Arabic), meaning “to drink”. Back in 1900 B.C., the ancient Babylonians started mixing date vinegar with their water in order to make it safe to drink. There is even a biblical reference to Ruth sharing a vinegar-based drink with those working in the fields. 

Sharabs were later known as sherberts, which were beverages made of citrus juices, flowers, herbs, and nuts. In addition, sharab is the origin of the Old French world sirop, which then became the English word syrup in the 14th century.  

2) But it wasn’t just Mesopotamia that embraced shrubs. The concept of drinking vinegars shows up in many cultures, including ancient China and India. Travelers carried the drinking vinegar concept far and wide as they scattered across the globe. Shrubs were especially popular among sailors, who believed the vinegar drinks reduced fevers and prevented scurvy. 

3) And that's how shrubs reached America. In the new country, drinking vinegars became the beverage of choice during the hot summers, so much so that shrubs were known as the quintessential American beverage. From the halls of Harvard and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello to the pantries of botanists and the prairies of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s homestead, shrubs became a mainstay. 

That is, until refrigeration and the allure of bottled beverages came along. Folks gradually abandoned shrubs in favor of sodas, including a new-fangled carbonated beverage called Coca-Cola. And, well, that’s pretty much where shrubs ended for a while.

Now, they’re coming back strong, embraced by the health conscious, the sober community, and craft cocktail aficionados alike. 

In our next post, we’ll meet Sascha Archer of @sauvieshrubs and hear her story of creating shrubs after finding they dramatically reduced her health issues.

Have you tried shrubs? What's your favorite? 

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