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