You know what’s better than making a one flavour shrub? You guessed it: a two flavour shrub! Shrubs are crazy good and the one used in this drink is no exception.
If you need a quick refresher on the art of shrubs, click here to read Sebastian‘s fantastic primer. They’re worth looking into, because they really add an unexpected dimension to cocktails. I think everyone is skeptical at first but you will find yourself surprisingly pleased by the flavors.
One of my hobbies during the summer is keeping a reasonably sized garden (Editor’s note: Bruno’s “reasonable” is everyone else’s ‘massive’). My goal is to grow enough produce to carry my family through eight months of the year. It seems ambitious, but you may be surprised how many crops will grow in cool weather. All this to say, I’m always on the lookout to include something fresh in a cocktail.
This year, I grew a variety of hot peppers, so I’ve been playing around with spice in my cocktails all summer and I think this combination is a home run. The pepper I’m using in this recipe is called the Lemon Drop pepper. This is a fairly hot pepper; it has a Scoville rating of 30,000-50,000 units. To put that figure in context, that’s very similar to the rating of cayenne pepper. Although the Lemon Drop is fairly hot, it also has a very fruity flavor profile – I thought it would work wonderfully if combined with pineapple. You probably won’t be able to find this pepper in store but don’t fret – I’ve tried this with the common jalapeño pepper and the result is also very nice.
Pineapple and Hot Pepper Shrub
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup cubed pineapple
1 Lemon Drop pepper (split and stemmed, alternatively use jalapeño)
Combine ingredients into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, do not let boil. Allow liquid to cool and refrigerate. Taste once a day and strain once flavor is infused to desired strength.
As you let this mixture sit, the flavours from the pineapple and pepper will gradually become more pronounced. I wish I could tell you exactly how long to let it stand, but considering every pepper and pineapple are different, it’s very difficult to say. I’ve had jalapeños from the same plant that are vastly different in heat. Taste the mixture every day and if you feel it’s spicy enough, take the pepper out. If you feel its sweet or pineapple-ly enough, strain the entire mixture.
I’ll be honest; I first put this shrub together with no endgame in mind. Once I finally nailed it, I knew I had to come up with something great to let it shine. Although I do love a good shrub, I will admit that they can sometimes be difficult to work into drinks – especially with flavors this complex. It can be challenging to balance sweet, tart, spicy, and sour. For some time, I was simply mixing this shrub with club soda and vodka – letting the shrub really shine. That was great, but I felt like I wasn’t getting the full potential out of it.
In a last ditch effort, I brought the last few ounces of my shrub to our last FMMS meeting to see if we could put our heads together and come up with something. After many iterations, we struck gold.
2 oz dark rum
½ oz Domaine de Canton Ginger Liquer
½ oz lime juice
½ oz pineapple & hot pepper shrub
Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled coupe.
The next day as I overlooked the notes from the meeting, I feared perhaps our judgement was impaired. As it tends to happen after a few drinks, you can sometimes fool yourself. Thankfully, after further investigation, the recipe held up. This cocktail really strikes a balance between sweet, spicy, and sour.
Try it and let us know what you think.