How About a Nice Tall Glass of Vinegar?

We were just getting used to the strangeness of bubble tea, with its chewy pearls of tapioca.
Here comes another Asian import of a curious drink fad: vinegar drinks.

This isn’t like the vinegar you splash on your salad.
Drinking vinegars have much lower acidity and are flavored with fruit. They’re typically sweetened with sugar or honey and mixed with water or soda for a tart and snappy warm weather drink. Trendy mixologists blend them into concoctions for cocktail scenesters, and restaurants in Japan and Korea might even have a vinegar sommelier.

Vinegar drinks are hardly new to the U.S. Shrubs made from vinegary fruits syrups were popular in colonial times, and saw a brief revival during Prohibition. They have always had a following in wellness circles where they are considered effective as a digestive and weight-loss aid, balancing pH levels in the digestive tract and giving a sense of fullness; and they’re high in anti-oxidants.

If you’re still crinkling your nose at the thought of a cool glass of vinegar, remember that refreshment comes in all shapes and sizes. Turks like their yeasty, sour kefir; Northern Europeans prefer a glass of drinking yogurt; and Indians have salted, creamy lassi. Here in the U.S., even pickle juice has a solid fan base.

Slow Food USA has a brief history of colonial era shrubs, as well as sources for purchasing American-made fruit vinegars.

Farmer Jo gives you recipes for making your own.

Portland, Oregon’s Pok Pok restaurant is widely credited as the earliest adopter of the new wave of vinegar drinks. They’ve begun bottling their own Pok Pok Som brand for retail sale in flavors like honey, pomegranate, and tamarind.


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