Cecchini says that people have been drinking vinegar throughout history. Sometimes you'd drink it as a straight shot, particularly in the case of aged Italian balsamics and Japanese black vinegars. Raw vinegars were also be mixed with water and a sweetener like honey or molasses to make a refreshing, non-alcoholic alternative to simple water.
Drinking vinegar is technically called a "shrub." To make it, you take straight vinegar and macerate fruit and sugar (or other sweetener) into it. Cecchini talks about making his own shrubs using apple cider vinegar and seasonal fruits like sour cherries and apricots.
He says drinking vinegars are definitely sour despite being sweetened. However, they have an interesting complexity and cleanse the palate in a way that sodas and fruit drinks alone cannot. If anyone has any leftover holiday partying to do, we think this would make a good beverage to offer anyone not drinking alcohol!
Have any of you tried making your own shrub since Elizabeth's post?
• To hear the whole interview and get a recipe for DIY Shrub, visit the Good Food website.
• Take a look at Toby Cecchini's article on drinking vinegars in the New York Times Magazine that sparked this interview.
• If you're not up for making your own, commercial drinking vinegars are available through sources like chefshop.com and Tait Farm Foods.