Digging Up Vintage Recipes |

Lime Shrub: Citrus-Infused Rum, American Revolution-Style


Thursday, May 12th, 2011

First order of business: today is the last day to vote for Cookbook Archaeology in the “Best Cook-Through” category at the Saveur Blog Awards; it only takes a second, and your support is much appreciated!

Today is also my last day of law school. And this is the cocktail with which I will be relaxing in the sun at 5 PM when I finish my last exam. It’s called a Lime Shrub, and it’s made with rum.


I found this recipe in the latest addition to my collection: The American Heritage Cook Book – a collection of American classics first published in the 1960s. This recipe is like history squared: it’s from a vintage book, and that vintage book includes history. This recipe appears next to an excerpt from Benjamin Franklin’s papers, in which he discusses the making of an Orange Shrub. As Darcy at the Art of Drink points out, adding citrus to booze was a great way to cover any number of sins. The key to a true shrub: not only do you add juice, you leave it for a week. The ingredients are stunningly simple: alcohol, fruit, sugar, water. And sitting for a while helps all the flavors really blend in a way you can’t quite achieve just by mixing.

The fresh-squeezed limes yield a wonderful freshness. Just make sure you don’t have any cuts on your hand when you do thisl I did, and it was not fun.

All the ingredients get combined in a jar – a liter or 32-oz. container works well for the amounts given below. The mixture sets for a week to let flavors blend. I used cheap rum, just to see if the original purposes of the shrub held true – and it totally worked. I’ll probably use something nicer next time, but this is definitely a great way to stretch your budget out for a summer party. Nobody does thrift like colonial Americans.  Perhaps you could even serve it up for a historically-themed July 4th…

The shrub sets for a week, and at the end of that time…drink up, and let the Monty Python jokes commence!

Lime Rum Shrub (Makes about 6)
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 1/2 c. water (filtered or bottled)
1 qt. dark rum
1 c. fresh-squeezed lime juice

1. Dissolve the sugar in the water completely. Add the rum and juice and mix well.
2. Bottle the liquid and let it sit in a cool, dark place for a week (refrigeration is fine, but not necessary).
3. Serve over ice in a highball glass.