Day 132: Shrubs, or Enough Club Soda with Lime Already!

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ve seen me be just the tiniest bit judgmental and gripe-y about the lack of great nonalcoholic drink options in bars and restaurants. Admittedly, my standards are high–partly because I’m just a picky little princess and partly because the city I live in is well-known for being a fabulous place to eat and drink. Yet despite all this artisanal this and locavore that and bespoke cocktails tailored to the color of your aura*, it’s surprisingly hard to get a mocktail that doesn’t taste like something a toddler would like. Once or twice I’ve specifically asked a bartender to make me something and have been happily surprised with a lovely grown-up drink, but sometimes I resent even that. I’m introverted and would really rather just order off a menu–“I’ll have the Twisted Mickey,”** please–rather than have to tell a waiter I’m a special person and can’t have anything on his lovingly crafted cocktail menu. I’ve got a lot of problems in this sober life, people! 

Um, anyway, this post isn’t about solving the restaurant issue–I just figured I’d bitch about while I’m here. This post is about shrubs, which I mentioned a couple of weeks ago and some readers asked about in the comments. A shrub is basically a drinking vinegar that you mix with something else (soda for me, though they’re used in regular cocktails too) to create a wonderfully refreshing and subtle drink. You can make your own and I plan to do some experimenting with this recipe, but mostly I’ve been sticking with these store-bought ones from a Thai restaurant in Portland called Pok Pok:

They are so good, and they come in a range of flavors from the familiar (pineapple, raspberry) to the exotic (tamarind, Thai basil). A bottle will run you about 15 bucks, but it goes a long way because the ratio of vinegar to soda is about 1:4. My Whole Foods sells them in the soda aisle, but you can also order them from the website if they aren’t available locally (or try making your own!). Honestly, they’ve been kind of a godsend–sometimes it’s the little things about new sobriety that are a challenge, and feeling like I wasn’t doomed to plain water or sugary kiddie drinks really helped. 

Let me know if you try a shrub, or if you have other go-to booze-free favorites! 

* I made this up (the aura part, not the bespoke part)

** I made this up too 

7 thoughts on “Day 132: Shrubs, or Enough Club Soda with Lime Already!

  1. That sounds yummy! I can’t stand the sweet drinks either, and in this supposedly cosmopolitan city, there should be more options. I’m going to try making the ginger version of the recipe you posted. I’ll let you know how it tastes.

  2. Try a big squirt of coconut cream (in the drink mix aisle, sorry), pour in fizzy lime water and ice. It fizzes up like a float!

  3. I know Enjoli went viral ( I watched the original, the one I remember was Wilma from Buck Rogers was the woman and she was the most amazingly gorgeous creature I had ever seen so I LOVED this ad, obvs way before my currently intimate and painful replationship with my own internalised misogyny kicked in!) but I have only just seen a publication of it on QUARTZ, so apologies for going back in time! ( BTDubs I thought you were a little harsh on the “bitch” in the ad, but she was just trying to earn a living working for the patriarchy so I have forgiven her for her reckless exploitation of her own internalised misogyny ). What just floored me about the article was the facebook post example you gave and your friends and the wine, wine, wine business. It’s like unless you call for wine you are not really in the sisterhood..and it has bothered me on many occaisons. I read that and yelled, OFMG YES! to myself and the slightly startled dog

    I am so not surprised you were bombarded with millions of Aussies, we drink for sport, we drink for social status, we drink until we puke, because it’s UN-ORSTAYAN not to… Being a nation forged by traumatised and enslaved convicts whose first free enterprise was to often make a still and sell gin to all the other desperate and traumatised bastards just so they could make it through another day in a stinking hell hole on the other side of the world….but I digress.

    So I have only just found your blog and I’m getting totally hooked..I have been having this conversation ind, trying it out on friends and the husband for years after being spat out by a alcohol riven work culture ( real estate agent).

    Getting home after being a professional rapport builder in someone’s living room for 3 hours until past 9 pm, finding that yes hubby cooked dinner but oops let the kids eat it all, and then falling on a bottle of anything to shut off the mental yada yada yayas in time for me to drag myself to bed by 1 am…only to feel like shit and start the whole thing 6out of 7 days a week.

    Suffice to say Sunday was coma day, after the biggest binge of all, the end of my working week Saturday night…I have left that environment but find I do have a problem with alcohol. I love it and I hate it I want it and I want to leave it and like a domestic violence victim I am very afraid of what will happen if I do- and what will my family say? My friends will go quiet and exchange eyebrows…your journey is helping me to do it, for real.

    Sooooo, what I started to say was I love the idea of shrubs, I have been making my own mocktails ( Top tip for a pina colada without ethanol – dash of lime ( sorry ) BUT also coconut milk THEN plop in 4 mega square ice cubes made from pineapple juice in a big jug, with both squeezed lime halves….it was delicious and frothy and quite self congratulatory!) I’m going to try making a few of the ones I found on the imbibe page…I’m up to day 132 and seriously loving your thoughts. Thankyou!

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