People have been drinking vinegar for thousands of years to purify water or as a tonic to prevent or cure diseases. Despite modern water sanitation and an abundance of healthy food, drinking-vinegars are making a comeback.
Claims of health benefits have hooked some people on apple cider-based tonics such as Mind Your Manna’s bracing Fire Brew. Bartenders and mixologists have rediscovered shrubs (fruit, sugar and vinegar drinks) and the unique and unexpected flavors that vinegar can add to spirits.
Many people associate vinegar with the astringent white vinegar used for pickling or apple cider vinegar with its cloud of goo forming on the bottom of the bottle. But there’s a wide array of vinegars in sumptuous flavors such as pomegranate balsamic, coconut white balsamic and wild blueberry that are easily sippable. Navidi’s Olive Oils and Vinegars in downtown Camas has several rows of vinegars (along with olive oil) to sample.
On a recent visit, Gabby Navidi shared that vinegar adds a special layer of flavor to cocktails and mocktails. She likes the Cara Cara white vanilla balsamic with sparkling water. Honey ginger white balsamic with a bit of sparkling water, lime juice, fresh mint and vodka makes for a quick and easy Moscow Mule. A bit of wild blueberry goes well with whiskey. Navidi’s has a little cocktail guide that you can buy to assist in your own cocktail experiments.
After an afternoon of sipping luscious vinegar at Navidi’s, I came home with five bottles of vinegar (Vermont maple balsamic, honey ginger white balsamic, wild blueberry balsamic, coconut white balsamic and cinnamon pear balsamic) and a vague idea that I would start making cocktails with them. I quickly realized that I’m a lazy, unskilled bartender and decided to contact Sara Newton, beverage director at Amaro’s Table for help.