During his stints at Aldea and Maison Premiere, Kelvin Uffre started building an array of shiny vintage gadgets that are now behind the bar of The Eddy—which opened in the East Village in April. “My Google searches around 3 a.m. get pretty strange,” he laughs. “Like, ‘antique Japanese iridescent thirties teacup,’ and ‘shrub’.” The latter is a drinkable, non-alcoholic vinegar—an old-school, pre-refrigeration way of preserving fruit—that can be used as the base of a drink.
“Basically you’re taking vinegar and adding sugar and fruit to it to balance out the acidity and make it drinkable,” he explains. “It adds a slight funk—yeah, you can say funk—to cocktails.”
The shrub Kelvin demonstrates for us is an unusual mix of red bell pepper and strawberry (it’s currently on The Eddy’s menu as part of the mezcal-based Parlor Friar, which he also showed us how to whip up). But he assures us that any number of different mixtures are possible (he’s made a mango-lemongrass and champagne vinegar shrub, a guava version, and a sweet celery concoction for use in gin drinks). “If you can make Uncle Ben’s Rice then you can make a shrub,” he assures.
Making the Shrub
1. Take one pint sherry vinegar, 1 pint fresh ruby red grapefruit juice, 1 whole bell pepper (washed and sliced), and 1 box of strawberries (washed and quartered).
2. Put them all in a blender.
3. Blend until smooth. Then strain, add equal parts sugar to liquid (here, the recipe yields around 1 quart of juice, so 1 quart sugar is added). Boil this mixture until the sugar dissolves.
4. Let cool, pour into a container and store in the fridge. It should keep for a while—although at The Eddy it “flies off the shelves.”
Making The Parlor Friar (“I was just thinking of monks getting drunk,” explains Kelvin. “I hate naming drinks. It’s the worst.”)
1. Take ¾ ounce of the above shrub.
2. And ¾ ounce lemon juice.
3. Add 2 ounces mezcal (“You gotta have a good quantity of mezcal,” says Kelvin. “If there were room in the glass for more, I’d add more.”) and one egg white.
6. If you’re cool like Kelvin, you can drop on some aromatic bitters and creole bitters, smearing them across the top in a groovy design. “Cocktails should be fun, confectionary,” explains the master.
7. Et voilà! “It’s not your standard spicy drink,” says Kelvin. “It’s fun and fruity.” It most certainly is. Drink up!