Rose and cardamom shrub

I’ve been having fun helping a friend develop plans for a restaurant. We’ve been working on the menu, drinks and décor. The restaurant will be a way to share some of his Yazidi heritage, bringing unique Iraqi food to Australia as a way to continue building a new community here in Australia. It’s a really exciting project. Some of the menu items will be fusion, some of them will be slightly elevated versions of the original, but they will all tell this story. We’ve been working on a few signature cocktails, but I wanted to make sure we had some mocktails too. The idea for this drink came from that project.

I am always looking for new things to do with the delicious ingredients I can find in the wild. Last year we picked SO many rosehips, and my friend and I made so much rosehip cordial that I still have enough to get me through till NEXT season, so I won’t be doing that again this year. Mostly, when I want to preserve the medicinal properties of the wild foods I harvest, I make a tincture, steeping the produce in brandy. But I’ve been trying to stop my alcohol consumption for health reasons, so I’ve been looking into other ways to extract the medicinal value from plants. I found that apple cider vinegar can be very good. At the same time, while doing my research into creating a balanced cocktail, I discovered an old-fashioned family of drinks called shrubs, based on fruit and vinegar.

Ordinarily, a shrub would be made by macerating the fruit in sugar then adding the resulting syrup to vinegar. You then dilute the vinegary syrup with soda to serve. However, this wasn’t an option for me for two reasons. Firstly, rosehips don’t contain enough water to create a syrup when macerated. Secondly, I wanted to use live apple cider vinegar but still have a relatively shelf stable base product, so adding the sugar to the base product wasn’t really an option because the vinegar would continue to ferment too much. So I add the sugar, in the form a traditional middle eastern rose jam, at the point of serving.

I actually sort of think of the infused vinegar as a bit of a love potion because I make it with the petals of roses given to me by, or bought in remembrance of, people of particular significance, the hips are life giving fruit that are good for the heart and keep the body strong with their disease fighting anti-oxidants, the apple cider vinegar continues to ferment when you combine all these ingredients, and the cardamom adds a perfect amount of spice.

Infused vinegar

3tablespoonsCardamom pods
1cupFresh rosehips
6 Fragrant roses, petals only*
500millilitresOrganic apple cider vinegar, with mother

*make sure the roses have not been sprayed with anything.

Combine all the ingredients in a clean, sterilised jar. Shake. Leave the jar on the bench and shake daily for a month. Strain the liquid back into the bottle the vinegar came in and store in a dark cupboard.

Rose and Cardamom Shrub

1tablespoonInfused vinegar
1tablespoonRose jam
¼teaspoonRosewater (optional)
3dashesRose bitters (optional)
  Soda water

Combine the vinegar, jam, rosewater, bitters and ice in a cocktail shaker with a little soda and shake till cold. Pour, unfiltered into a tall tumbler. Add a little more ice and fill with soda. Serve immediately.

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