Would you belly up to the bar and order a drink made with vinegar? It's a hot trend in the cocktail world.
It's may sound a bit adventurous, but some are finding risking their taste buds worth the refreshing reward.
The Velvet Tango Room in Cleveland, owned by Paulius Nasvytis, recently added two custom-made drinks to their menu.
There is a reason this bar, with its atmosphere that blends class and comfort, routinely received recognition for the some of the best cocktails in the nation.
The vinegar-based drinks, known as shrubs, take patience to prepare. The base of the drink is made with pulverized fruit, vinegar and sugar. The VTR then ta
kes the step of aging the mixture for one month. Aging mellows the vinegar and enhances the flavor the the fruit.
The VTR serves two vinegar-based cocktails -- one made with figs, the other with peaches.
When we asked people to try the cocktails, their reactions were overwhelming positive, describing the drinks as spicy and refreshing. One woman did comment she had to get past the smell of vinegar to enjoy the taste.
Nasvytis' girlfriend, Claudia Young, developed the recipes for the cocktails. Young writes the food blog www.cookeatfret.com.
We asked her to
explain how she came designed the drinks.
Shrubs, by Claudia Young
Shrubs. A mixture of fruit and vinegar. If you are even remotely involved in the cocktail world then shrubs came onto your radar a few years ago. Historically they go way back, and for various reasons and in different forms. But in the here and now we use these drinking vinegars as a refreshing soft drink mixed with soda water and in the case of the Velvet Tango Room, we use them to make two wonderful cocktails, one using peaches and the other figs. They couldn't be more different, but the common denominators are always the same. Fruit and vinegar.
I'd never had a shrub before I created these but I did have the kind ear of my friend Michael Dietsch, author of the upcoming book, "Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times." I am good with putting together flavors but I needed some guidance. What he shared were 3 important aspects. First off, the drinks should be vinegar forward to the point where if vinegar is not your thing, we'd advise you against them. Secondly, the shrub shouldn't be too sweet. And thirdly, there is some degree of aging necessary for everything to meld together, smoothing out any sharp edges and somehow transforming it all..
So armed with this knowledge, I hit the kitchen. My strawberry with rosé vinegar was a bit of a flop. I just couldn't make it work. And so I moved onto peach, using a double oaked chardonnay vinegar, white sugar and peaches, adding chartreuse for interest and topping with champagne. This one has become wildly popular. A modern twist on the Bellini, perhaps? For the fig shrub I used red wine vinegar, brown sugar, curacao, vermouth and scotch. This cocktail is more textural due to the nature of figs and has a highly nuanced flavor profile. It's fabulous -- a true taste sensation!
So shrubs. Perhaps you heard it here first -- or not. Regardless, push the envelope and try one!
A side note: we are only using naturally fermented barrel aged vinegars from Chef Jonathon Sawyer of Greenhouse Tavern and upcoming Trentina.
The Velvet Tango Room is located at 2095 Columbus Road, Cleveland.
Visit www.tavernvinegar.com for more information on vinegars by Chef Jonathon Sawyer.