You can buy prepared drinking vinegars today. Sometimes we pick up a bottle made by a favorite local barista. But making them is simple and economical. We used this guide to make a batch using Washington-grown Sweetheart cherries. You can also use other stone fruits cut into small pieces. For berries with drupelets, such as raspberries or blackberries, mash the fruit lightly with a fork before steeping.
In a sterilized jar, we poured two cups of heated apple cider vinegar over two cups of quartered and pitted cherries. Then we left it in the pantry for three days. We strained the vinegar into a saucepan, added a cup and a half of sugar to the mixture, brought it to a boil and stirred to dissolve the sugar. We ended up with more than a pint of syrup the color of a red beet.
It’s a pretty addition that adds a tangy complexity to cocktails, like this bourbon-based summer drink, based on a recipe from The American Cocktail. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add two ounces of bourbon and an ounce of drinking vinegar and shake for 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled bourbon glass over one or two ice cubes, add a dash of bitters (we used wild sage), and top with two ounces of white wine.
For a non-alcoholic shrub, chill a pint glass and fill it a quarter of the way with ice. Pour in two ounces of your preferred shrub and the juice of half a lemon. Fill the rest of the glass with carbonated or plain water. Stir and garnish with a sprig of mint or a twist of lemon peel.