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“Assume Nothing!” A mantra for The Crown as we worked towards opening our doors in March of 2019, the phrase became a Menu section, encouraging our visitors to drop their preconceptions and be open to new and delicious experiences. And now it’s the title of a recipe series, for you to recreate at home. Here’s to a year of assuming nothing!

Sanguinelli Orange & Charred Rosemary Shrub

A zesty and lightly fermented refreshing sipper that kicked off our kegged shrub lineup. Add some sparkling water, or use it as a base for a cocktail!

Ingredients:

(yields 1L of shrub syrup, can be scaled up — we made 5x recipe to yield 5L) 

  • 4 lbs Sanguinelli blood oranges 
  • 1 lbs Organic White Cane Sugar (or half the amount of chopped fruit by volume) 
  • 2 Rosemary sprigs 
  • 1L White wine vinegar 

Directions:

Cut the oranges into bite size pieces, about 1-1.5 inches. Be sure to remove as much of the pith as possible as it will make the shrub bitter. 

Wash and dry the rosemary. Once fully dry, use a cooking torch to toast the outermost edges (a gas range would work just as well, but in all cases be very careful!). The rosemary should still be mostly green, but we’re looking to add some smoky flavors to the shrub.  

Add the cut oranges to a nonreactive container and cover them with the sugar, tossing to coat evenly. Add the rosemary, seal the container, and place it in the fridge to rest for at least two weeks. After two weeks, strain out the fruit solids, keeping the syrup. I would recommend keeping the rosemary sprigs to allow them to continue infusing.

To this syrup, add white wine vinegar, as much vinegar as you have syrup. Return to the fridge and let rest for at least another 2 weeks before serving.

 Store in sanitized containers in the fridge. It will keep for at least 3 months.

Description:

This was the very first shrub we served at The Crown: Royal Coffee Lab & Tasting Room. I had already written about the history and technique behind shrubs, and done plenty of recipe testing, but we had never served one before (to be fair, we hadn’t served coffee yet either!) 

I got some spectacular Sanguinelli Blood Oranges from Brokaw Farms, kicking off a relationship that stands to this day. We used the orange peels to make oleo saccharum before chopping the blood-red meat into chunks and covering them in sugar. To this we added fresh rosemary, harvested from a coworker’s garden and torched for added smokiness before sticking the whole thing in the fridge.  

This is where things got tricky. For weeks, the Crown had been waiting on the final permits that would allow us to open our doors to the public.  The baristas were already on staff, training and preparing to open a tasting room whose opening kept getting postponed.  

Suddenly, after being stuck in limbo for so long, we were ready to open! And we had to have a shrub ready to serve, both for the opening parties we were planning for Royal Coffee’s customers and for the larger coffee community. And that shrub that I had started on just a week ago needed to be ready *now*.  

Taste tests confirmed my fears: the syrup tasted extremely vinegary. In an ideal world, this mixture would have sat for another two to four weeks  before serving. Time is one of the most important ingredients for making a shrub; it mellows the vinegar and gets all the flavors to marry together harmoniously. How could I mimic the mellowing effects of time on this recipe?  

I decided to simmer the syrup, hoping this would mellow out the sharp acidity of the raw vinegar. This was relatively successful: the flavor of the vinegar was muted. However, the heat had also led to some degradation of the fresh flavors of the fruit and brought in a little bit of caramelization. Still, this was a tasty and refreshing drink.  

We served it with sparkling water in a short Umami Mart glass topped with a small rosemary flower. The red shrub syrup contrasted beautifully with the blue and green of the fresh rosemary blossom, and this shrub stayed on our menu through our grand opening and well into service. The juiciness of the blood orange met the smoky herbaceousness of the torched rosemary to create a sweet and sophisticated refreshing drink.