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Drinking Vinegars: A Primer

They’ve been around for years (centuries, in fact), but if you haven’t tried the refreshing drink yet, here’s why you’ll want to

Your best antidote to the standard saccharine cocktail this spring might be a drinking vinegar. But before you balk at the prospect of imbibing anything with “vinegar” in its name—and for pleasure, no less—consider that these concentrated formulas aren’t a novel idea; drinking vinegars have long been fixtures in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and even the American South. During the 18th century colonial period, vinegar was used to preserve fruits in lieu of citrus juices during the off-season, a process called shrubbing. Today, drinking vinegars—also known as shrubs, or cocktails that are made by mixing soda water or liquor with a fresh fruit vinegar—have been gaining popularity once more.

Enter Mangé, a fruit vinegar company that’s embracing the shrub comeback. Created by New York chef Chris Spivak after discovering fresh fruit vinegars in France, the brand offers 10 bottled vinegars that are cooking- and cocktail-ready. “Chefs love our fresh fruit vinegars because they allow for creative cooking,” Spivak tells DuJour. “Our vinegars let them play with flavors that aren’t always available depending on the season. At the same time, they’re a very approachable product so home cooks can experiment with them and just have fun cooking.”

The main ingredient in the vinegars are puréed fruit picked at its peak, and the flavors range from red pepper to passion fruit, mango, pear and blood orange. “Our Raspberry, White Peach and Passion Fruit Vinegars are the most popular flavors,” says Spivak. “The Passion Fruit is especially attractive during the summer because it’s light, refreshing and can be used to dress up salads or as an alternative acid for cocktails.” Mixed with carbonated water or your favorite liquor, Mangé’s fruit vinegars strike a balance between lip-puckering tart and refreshingly sweet. Check out a few recipes for Mangé cocktails below.

Those who still need extra encouragement might first swing by one of James Beard Award-winning chef Andy Ricker’s (Pok Pok) highly-rated establishments, for which he created a line of flavors (including honey, pomegranate, apple and tamarind) for soft drinks and cocktails. He started bottling his drinking vinegars to sell due to popularity.

Summer Passion
1.5 oz, Passion Fruit Vinegar
3 oz. seltzer
1 oz. Vodka
1⁄4 oz. Mango Vinegar and 2 mango slices (garnish)

Pour over ice and stir. Garnish with mango slices and Mango Fresh Fruit Vinegar.

Sweet Strawberry Passion
1 cup fresh strawberries
1.5 oz. Rum
1 cup ice
2 oz. sweet condensed milk

Blend all ingredients. Add 2 oz. of Passion Fruit Vinegar before pouring into glass.

Blood Saki
2 oz. Blood Orange Vinegar
2 oz. Saki
1 oz. Sprite

In order acceding order, layer in a highball glass over ice.

Raspberry Ale (non-alcoholic)
2 oz. Raspberry Vinegar
2 oz. ginger ale
1 oz. white rum (optional)
Lemon Bitters (garnish)

Mix all ingredients over ice and stir.