Monday. Perfect time for a little mocktail! …or cocktail! 😉 Recently my glass has been filled with lots of shiso shrub! After having made a new batch of shiso infused vinegar, I realized I could use it in not only cooking, but in cocktails too. And here we are, many a shiso shrubs later. Writing up a recipe for you!
I found out about shrubs on our trip to Portland Maine a few years ago. I fell in love with them, but so far I’ve only made a rhubarb shrub (link to my post in Finnish) at home. Although it was delicious, this concoction with shiso, cucumber and vinegar is even better! Could be because I grew up eating fresh quick pickled cucumbers every summer…?
Shiso infused vinegar
The American shrubs are usually made with sweetened vinegar that is infused with fruits or berries. Add in alcohol – or not – and top the drink off with something fizzy! Since I have a huge batch of shiso infused vinegar at hand, I’ve simply sweetened the vinegar with a simple shiso syrup. I do realize most people likely don’t have shiso infused vinegar around. I mean, I’d be surprised if you did! So, I’m including instructions on how to make this without it too. It’s actually super simple! You can just use an unseasoned rice vinegar, white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar as the sour ingredient. You get plenty of flavor from the shiso syrup and to further boost it, try muddling the cocktail with a few shiso leaves.
Shiso syrup is easy to make: just boil equal parts of water and sugar and add in a handful of shiso leaves (and stems!) to infuse. Once the syrup is cooled off you can strain the shiso away. Ta da – shiso syrup is ready to use! I love to use it in more than cocktails, so I usually make 1-2 desiliters at a time. If I’m being honest, when I have shiso around, I want to add it to everything! It’s such a rare herb here in Finland… and I love it so much!
I don’t know how easy it is to get a hold of shiso where you live, but I would recommend searching for it in grocery stores that specialize in Asian cooking. Or maybe there’s a local smaller farmer who grows it, like Ahlbergin puutarha here, or a bigger one like Järvikylä (they grow perilla)? Or who knows, maybe some of you are lucky enough to grow it yourself!
I hope you enjoy this cucumber shiso shrub as much as I do!
Cucumber shiso shrub
- Cocktail shaker / a glass jar with a tight fitting lid
- cocktail strainer / small sieve
- 1 cl shiso syrup
- 1 cl shiso infused vinegar (or plain white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar)
- 5 cm piece of cucumber
- 4 cl gin (or vodka)
- 2-3 shiso leaves
- 1-2 dl soda water (or tonic)
- 1 part sugar
- 1 part water
- shiso leaves
This cocktail has a lovely combination of sweet and sour in my opinion, but if you have more of a sweet tooth than I do, please use a bit more syrup to adjust the taste to your liking!
- Bring equal parts of sugar and water to a boil. Add in a handful of shiso, mix and leave to infuse. Strain off the shiso, making sure to push out all flavor once cooled. (I usually make this with 1 dl of both water and sugar + about 3-4 big shiso leaves and stems)
- Cut a slice of cucumber to use as garnish and muddle the rest of the cucumber in your cocktail shaker (or jar). You can use a designated cocktail muddler, the other end of a cocktail spoon or any blunt long utensil that does the job 🙂
- Measure the shiso syrup and the (shiso infused) vinegar in to the shaker. You can find the recipe for shiso infused vinegar here. If you are using unseasoned vinegar, add in a few shiso leaves and muddle with the cucumber for a bit of extra shiso flavor!
- Measure in the gin/vodka, unless you're making a mocktail. Add a handful of ice and close the shaker/jar and shake vigorously until the shaker turns frosty, or the jar feels icy cold in your hand. Strain the shiso shrub to a highball glass filled with ice.
- Fill the glass with soda water or tonic and gently mix. Garnish with a slice of cucumber and/or a shiso leaf!
Ps. At our house shiso shrub has been mainly made with gin, and with this Pink Gin by Kyrö Distilleryn in particular. Since this gin has been infused with rhubarb and lingonberries among other things, it brings another level of flavor to the mix. If you want a more “pure” shiso & cucumber experience, I recommend using a more classic dry gin, or vodka.
Pps. After learning about the American shrubs, I found out drinking vinegars are also used widely in at least Japan and Korea! If you have a good recipe for Asian vinegar based drinks, I’d love to try them 🙂