For years, vinegar has been used as an ingredient in “shrubs” that are then used in cocktails. A combination of fruit, sugar, vinegar and aromatics, these mixtures are then strained and used sparingly in cocktails for flavor.
However, it seems that a new trend is on the horizon—the use of vinegars as a more substantial ingredient in cocktails. This was my assignment for this month’s First Time Foodie, and I will admit that it was met with a confused look.
A thorough search for local places with “vinegar” listed as an ingredient on their cocktail menus turned out to be fruitless, so I decided to make my own. But what vinegar would I use?
Simple, white vinegar was out because I can barely eat salt and vinegar chips without making a face, and red wine vinegar felt like cheating somehow. I narrowed it down to balsamic and apple cider vinegar and ultimately chose balsamic because on the day that I made the drink, balsamic strawberries sounded like the best thing in the whole wide world.
I turned to my trusted Internet search engine and entered the words “balsamic strawberry cocktail” and immediately began to salivate. With a bit of research and a little imagination, I mixed and matched a few recipes and came up with this one.
Balsamic Berry Bash
2 lime wedges
2 slices of cucumber
1 large fresh strawberry
1 tbsp. simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
½ tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 ½ oz. gin
Muddle lime, cucumber, strawberry, simple syrup and balsamic together in cocktail shaker. Add ice and gin. Shake. Strain over fresh ice. Add the muddled strawberry and cucumber to cocktail and garnish with a strawberry.
I loved it. I would absolutely make this cocktail again and I am already planning on trying a few different variations.
The sweetness of the balsamic vinegar, strawberry and simple syrup are perfectly balanced by the tartness of the lime, the freshness of the cucumber and the herbal quality of the gin. This drink is layered, refreshing and simply delicious. The balsamic vinegar added just the perfect amount of complexity without making this drink intimidating or odd.
I am very curious to see what other cocktails and liquors I could mix with balsamic vinegar and would definitely be willing to try out apple cider vinegar if I found a good recipe.