I have always loved the variety offered by the addition of vinegar to a meal. In fact, when I had my own catering company (“Artichoke”) I developed my own line of herbed/spiced vinegar that I hand-crafted and sold to my customers. I sold it faster than I could make it, but I never did have it manufactured. Guess I should have, because people sure loved it.
Fast forward to our first stint living in Portland. One of the first things we did was try out Pok-Pok, a world renowned Thai/Vietnamese restaurant that serves and sells bottled drinking vinegar, also known as “shrubs”. The first flavor I tried was honey, and it was delicious. That was my first experience with the stuff, and I’ve never forgotten it. Now, we live 1/2 block from Pok-Pok, so I have them often.
Drinking vinegar. It doesn’t sound good. Does it? I mean, who relishes the thought of taking a big swig of sour vinegar on a hot day? Well…I do….because drinking vinegars are different.
You should understand that not all drinks that have a vinegar base are equal. Some are simply comprised of water, apple cider vinegar and sugar or fruit juice. Others add colony-forming probiotics. The SOM brand that I purchase at Pok-Pok is hand-crafted and contains many herbs, spices, probiotics and other things that make them special.
Our son-in-law, Nathan, made some incredible raspberry drinking vinegar last summer. He did a raspberry concentrate that he stirred into the vinegar after everything was fermented. It was light, refreshing and amazing! The flavors are so bright with these drinking vinegars. They quinch the thirst like nothing else, so why not give them a try. You can buy Som online, or here’s a recipe for you to make your own. They are fantastic!
Lavender Plum Drinking Vinegar
8 red plums, chopped
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 (1-in.) fresh culinary lavender sprigs
1 vanilla bean, split
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 1/4 cups bourbon or rye whiskey
6 cups club soda
lavender sprigs and plum slices, for garnish
How to Make It
Toss together 8 red plums, chopped, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar, 2 fresh culinary lavender sprigs, and 1 vanilla bean, split, in a medium bowl. Cover tightly, and let stand at room temperature 2 days.
Discard lavender sprigs and vanilla bean, and stir in 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar. Cover and chill 24 hours. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a small pitcher, discarding fruit.
For each serving, pour 1/4 cup of the syrup over ice in a 12-ounce glass and stir in 3 tablespoons bourbon or rye whiskey. Top each with 1/2 cup club soda. Garnish with lavender sprigs and plum slices.