Strawberry Shrub + Black Pepper Cocktail

We've had a few magically warm days in a row in New England this week, and boy does the entire region have a major case of Spring fever. We've been forcing outside time like you wouldn't believe, and nothing pairs better with a little time outdoors over the weekend than a delicious, spring-inspired cocktail. This amazing Strawberry Shrub + Black Pepper concoction whipped up by the lovely Karen at The Coastal Table is JUST what the doctor ordered after a long, cozy winter. I had the pleasure of styling and taste-testing this puppy for The Coastal Table's Spring 2017 Issue alongside the talented Erin McGinn, and I think it goes without saying that sometimes my job has its perks.  

So thrilled to see this beauty featured on Rue Magazine today


2 tablespoons black peppercorns

1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and diced

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, or more to taste

Ice, for serving

2 ounces vodka, or to taste

Club soda, for serving

Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish



1. Place peppercorns on a cutting board. Using bottom of a pan, gently smash peppercorns, breaking some open to release flavor. Transfer peppercorns to a double-lined piece of cheesecloth and tie with a piece of twine. Set aside.

2. Place strawberries, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan. Add bundle of peppercorns. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened, 10-15 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Remove and discard peppercorn bundle. Pour mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, scraping off any syrup from bottom of strainer. Transfer pulp from inside strainer to a bowl (see cook’s note). Stir vinegar into syrup. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Store shrub, covered, in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

3. To make a cocktail, place 1 large ice cube in a short glass. Add 2 ounces strawberry shrub, vodka, and top with club soda. Garnish with black pepper and serve.

From Karen: The amount of vinegar used in the shrub depends on how sweet and fresh your strawberries are. Start with 1/2 cup as noted below, but taste the finished shrub after adding it and adjust as needed, adding another 2-4 tablespoons until mixture is a nice balance of tangy and sweet. Crushing the peppercorns slightly allows more of their flavor to release while simmering.

RECIPE: The Coastal Table | Photography: Erin McGinn | Styling: Abby Capalbo