Vinegar Moves from the Pantry to the Bar

Vinegar Moves from the Pantry to the Bar
The Fireworks cocktail lists fig chili vinegar among its ingredients

Ah, the weekend. Time to sit back, relax and reward yourself for a hard week’s work. Perhaps a cocktail is in order?

Vinegar probably isn’t the first ingredient that comes to mind when you think of mixing a drink, but the use of this centuries-old liquid in craft cocktails is on the rise, as seen in drink-forward restaurants and bars across the country, and even right here in Madison.  

“With the resurgence of craft cocktails, there’s a resurgence of using real fruits and other ingredients in drinks,” says Jonathan Jones, events coordinator and drink mixer for Vom Fass. He’s a firm believer in the shrub revival.

A shrub, Jones explains, is a mixture of fruit, vinegar and a bit of sugar. “Historically, it started as a way to preserve fruits, almost like fermentation,” he says. 

Shrubs are strong in the flavor department, so just a splash is enough to amp your favorite drink. That strength and complexity is also a great way to add excitement to nonalcoholic beverages.

Drinks made with vinegar can be traced back to the 18th century in America, according to liquor historian Wayne Curtis, as quoted in a New York Times story on the rise of vinegar in artisan beverages.

To see what all the shrub fuss is about, order the Dutch Indies drink at Merchant, made with a carrot-anise shrub, or whip up a Jonathan Jones’s Fireworks cocktail from the recipe below.

RECIPE: Fireworks


2 oz Grappa Moscato*
1 oz Apricot Liqueur*
1 dash Waldburg Balsam Calamansi Vinegar*
1 splash Waldburg Fig Chili Vinegar*
2 inches orange peel, squeezed
3 dashes Peychauds bitters

*available at Vom Fass


Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into chilled cocktail glass, express orange oil over top and garnish with orange twist.

Recipe courtesy of Vom Fass
3248 University Ave.

To learn more about shrubs and sample other vinegar drinks from Vom Fass, check out their Shrubs and Starters class (June 19) and the Mad City Mix-Off party (June 20) as part of their week-long Summer Indulgence celebration.