Bitters have been around forever, but the recent resurgence in the art of mixology has made bitters a real buzzword among bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts alike. Ten years ago, I almost never would have asked for a cocktail that included bitters. Now, I almost always do.
But bitters aren’t the only way to spice up your libations. Other tinctures have been around for centuries as well, many of which are finding their way to the forefront of mixology. Two of those are falernum and shrub.
Despite that falernum and shrub sound like the name of a bad law firm, they are welcome additions to many simple spirits we enjoy.
Falernum is a sweet syrup used in Caribbean and tropical drinks. It often has flavors of almond, ginger, cloves, lime and sometimes vanilla or allspice. Some people drink falernum by itself on the rocks, but most often it is mixed in a cocktail. The bottle below is falernum made by my friend Roy, who used ginger, cloves and lime juice in an alcohol base.
Shrub, meanwhile, can be several different kinds of drinks. It was a fruit liqueur popular in 17th and 18th England, made with rum or brandy mixed with sugar or the juice or rinds of citrus fruit. A shrub was also a drink popular in American colonial times, featuring a mix of vinegared syrup mixed with spirits or water. But most times, today’s version of shrub is the sweetened vinegar-based syrup itself. If you’re curious about shrub, there’s a great source for a variety of shrub flavors: http://www.shrubandco.com.