Last month André Darlington of Isthmus wrote about a mini-boom in alternative beverages here in the Madison, Wisconsin area. His piece mentions Wisco Pop‘s successful Kickstarter campaign to begin bottling their all-natural sodas (which I posted about when the campaign was still ongoing). He also notes NessAlla Kombucha‘s continued expansion, including into the Chicago market.
But as a lover of all things tart, tangy, and sour, what most intrigued me was the arrival of a locally made drinking vinegar. As Darlington describes,
Mad Maiden Shrub is the newest beverage to hit the Madison market. Janet Chen started making a “shrub,” or drinking vinegar, focusing on its health aspects. Chen sources apples for her base vinegar from Turkey Ridge Organic Orchard in Gays Mills and buys honey from Gentle Breeze in Mount Horeb.
Shrubs have been linked to the national cocktail boom. A syrupy mixture of macerated fruit and vinegar, shrubs were a kind of precursor to modern-day sodas and were popular in colonial times. Just add spirits and carbonated water, and you had a fine cocktail….
The most famous drinking vinegar in the U.S. is Som, produced by chef Andy Ricker of Portland’s Pok Pok restaurant, who was inspired by these Asian digestives. [Check out my earlier post when I tried ginger Som in Portland.]
Chen currently makes a potent honey ginger version.