Teetotalers and designated drivers need not miss out on holiday fun in the drinks department. Vinegars infused with fruits and herbs make for lively and delicious celebratory libations.

Variously known as Drinking Vinegars and Shrubs, these infused vinegars are balanced with sugar or a simple syrup and then mixed with sparkling water. The flavored vinegar base is potent stuff so it only takes a couple of tablespoon or so to flavor one drink.


2 c. chopped pineapple
1 bunch fresh basil
1 pint rice vinegar
1/2 c. sugar

Place the chopped pineapple and any accumulated juices into a strong pitcher or other vessel. Add the vinegar.

Tear the basil leaves from the stems and mix with the pineapple.  Use a wooden spoon to mash the basil leaves well. Really bruise them up.

(Experienced practitioners of the tipsy arts will be familiar with this process: they muddle the mix with a muddler.)

Let steep for at least 1 day.

Strain the liquid, removing all solids. Place the liquid in a small saucepan.

Add the sugar and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve well.

Let cool.

To serve mix 1/4 c. syrup with 1 liter cold sparkling water. Add a splash of grenadine and garnish with a slice of star fruit.

Or do it up in any manner you find pleasing.

Other SpecD mocktails include Sassafras Root Beer, Rosemary Mint Cordial, and Ginger Ale.


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Incidently the bar at the Indian Creek Hotel in Miami Beach (now operating as hip hostel with a rough but charming Brooklyn-goes-to-the-tropics vibe) has a very sophisticated drinking vinegar drinks list.

Here’s a pic of Guy, one of the proprietors, and a minty refresher he whipped up during Art Basel. 

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Written by on December 30, 2013 under ALL RECIPES, Drinks.

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