Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Nov 8, 2012

The Spicy Cider Mill Cocktail & Apple Shrubs

I'm still working my way through all the apples I picked back in mid-October from my trip to Oak Glen.  I've been baking with them, making apple sauce, apple bitters (pictured on the below photo at left) and more. A fantastic way to preserve seasonal fruits is by making a shrub or drinking vinegar.  Shrubs, along with house-made syrups and bitters, have had a resurgence thanks to the craft cocktail community. There are a couple of origin stories for shrubs, but basically folks found that by infusing fruits with vinegar over a period of 3-5 days was a great way to preserve them without refrigeration.  The fruits were then strained out, and a sweetener such as sugar or honey was added.  Shrubs were especially popular during the Colonial times and would be added to water for a nice, cooling beverage.  It was also discovered that shrubs tasted pretty darn good when you added them to liquor - it kind of cut down on the acidity of the shrub or masked the potency of moonshine you were mixing up in your tub.

Food52 recently posted a recipe for a Fresh Apple Shrub, which can be used in cocktails, soda water (for you non-alcohol drinkers out there), vinaigrettes and marinades.  I let mine infuse for 5 days, but feel free to let it go a little longer if you want a stronger apple flavor.  I was on a time limit because a friend of mine was having a birthday BBQ this past Sunday and I was tasked with bringing something Lush Chef-inspired.  Because I was working a huge event over the weekend, I knew I wouldn't have time to cook or bake anything, but I'd have time to pour a bunch of stuff in a pitcher!  He's a big bourbon fan, so I had at least two components down.  Ginger seemed like the natural third choice, and I wanted a fizzy drink to pair with whatever meats he'd be grilling on a hot November afternoon.  I ended up choosing Reed's Extra Ginger Ginger Beer, so it could cut through the vinegar taste.  I prefer having more of the bourbon and apple shrub taste, so feel free to adjust.  I brought a couple extra bottles of ginger beer so folks could add a little more to their cocktail, which I've named the Spicy Cider Mill!

The Spicy Cider Mill Cocktail
  • 1 1/2 oz bourbon (I used Bulleit, of course)
  • 1 1/2 oz apple shrub (recipe below)
  • 4-5 oz ginger beer (I used Reed's Extra Ginger)
- Add all the ingredients into a glass filled with ice and stir.

To make a full pitcher of this, I used 2 cups of bourbon, 2 cups of apple shrub and 5 cups of ginger beer.

Apple Shrub - makes 2-3 cups
  • 3 medium apples (I used Rome)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup sugar
- Shred the apples on a box grater and add them to a glass jar.
- Add the vinegar and sugar and stir.
- Close the jar, give it a good shake and store it in your fridge for 5 or more days.
- Strain out the apple using a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth so you can get all that juice out.