A brief history
Also known as drinking vinegars, shrubs and it's close cousin the switchel, reached the height of the their popularity in Colonial America. A switchel is a mix of apple cider vinegar, molasses and ginger, the addition of fruit makes it a shrub.
The word shrub is derived from the arabic word sharab meaning to drink. Not only is there is evidence of pots in ancient Egypt containing vinegar thought to be used for drinking but even Ruth in the book of Job was known to drink vinegar.
It's debateble whether the origin of the switchel came from the Caribbean ( I think you know where I stand) or New England, but the thirst quenching properties of vinegar made it a crowd favorite with and without rum or brandy. A mainstay whether toiling in the fields during summer hay harvest ( birth of the "haymaker punch" ) or just sitting on the porch, some have called shrubs the original Gatorade. Interesting fact: both Martha Washington and Ben Franklin were known to be big fans.
Rum smugglers would dump their barrels offshore for later retrieval, and the addition of sugar fruit and vinegar made the barrels more palatable after sitting in sea water.
In a world without refridgeration, a natural means of preserving fruit was major part of life. The useful combination of fruit sugar and vinegar became the staple of an era.
Why shrubs make the best mixers
Outside of their historical significance, there are many reasons why I think shrubs make the best cocktail mixers.
1 . They allow you to make a complete cocktail with just 1 ingredient. They are so easy to use and when well made, contain all the complexity and flavor of a cocktail made with multiple ingredients. You don't need to have fresh lemon, lime, fruit to muddle or ginger. It's all built right in to the shrub.
2. They are balanced by themselves. Wicked Bess shrubs are designed to be used in cocktails or mocktails without anything else. Shrubs balance the acidity of the vinegar with the sweetness of sugar bringing out the natural flavors of the chosen fruit.
3.The acidity of the vinegar makes them ridiculous refreshing. You probably won't taste the vinegar but you will salivate. This will both stimulate the appetite and make a great apertif for a nice meal.