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Cherry shrub brandy daisy: pickle cocktail

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  • cherry shrub brandy daisy on white wooden board with grey background
  • pouring cherry shrub syrup for cherry shrub brandy daisy
  • cherry shrub brandy daisy close up with grey background
  • making cherry shrub syrup for cherry shrub brandy daisy
  • cherry shrub brandy daisy from 45 degrees
  • making cherry shrub syrup for cherry shrub brandy daisy
  • cherry shrub brandy daisy on white board with cherries from above
  • cherry shrub syrup in vintage cut glass jug for cherry shrub brandy daisy
cherry shrub brandy daisy close up on grey textured background

Cherry shrub brandy daisy is a pickle twist on a vintage brandy daisy recipe appearing in the revised 1887 edition of Jerry Thomas’ Bar-tender’s Guide where the lemon and sugar are swapped out for a raw cacao and vanilla cherry shrub syrup and honey syrup enriched with bee pollen and nutmeg geranium. The brandy daisy first appears in the appendix of Jerry Thomas’ 1876 Bar-tender’s Guide  where it was an innovation for the time employing shaved ice, along with gum syrup, lemon juice, orange cordial and brandy, topped with seltzer water in a small bar glass – it is essentially a sour that is lengthened with the addition of seltzer water and served with shaved ice. The version used here is from the later revised edition of Thomas’ book from 1887 where the brandy is improved with the addition of Jamaican rum along with the original orange cordial and served in a large cocktail glass with shaved ice – this revised 1887 daisy recipe seemed perfect for pairing with cherries – brandy offers a boozy base, combined with accents of rich molasses from Jamaican rum and sweet orange from curacao. I have added a dash of Peychaud’s bitters to increase the red colour and complexity of the cherry shrub brandy daisy and a mountain of crushed ice that serves to enhance the already refreshing properties of the coconut vinegar in the shrub – the garnish is a single fresh cherry and a grating of fresh nutmeg. The cherry shrub brandy daisy is a lovely Christmas summer drink for summery Australian Christmas where the rich flavours of brandy, rum and curacao are paired with summer cherries held in a granita like suspension of crushed ice, spiced with bitters, raw cacao, vanilla bean, nutmeg geranium and nutmeg, sweetened with a rich bee pollen and nutmeg geranium honey syrup.

What is a Daisy cocktail?
The Daisy was an innovation of the 1870’s with the first recipe appearing in Jerry Thomas’ 1876 revised Bar-tender’s Guide (Thomas 1876: 88). The Appendix where the recipe first appears states (Thomas 1876: 88):

“The following additional Recipes  include all the latest innovations in Beverages, obtained through the courtesy of some of the most celebrated caterers to the tastes of an appreciative public in our first class bars and wine rooms…”

The brandy daisy calls for brandy, lemon juice, gum syrup, orange cordial served with shaved ice, topped with seltzer water. The updated and revised brandy daisy recipe appearing in the 1887 version of Jerry Thomas’ Bar-tender’s Guide (Thomas 1887: 719) calls for the addition of Jamaican rum, along with the curacao of the original recipe, combined with brandy, gum syrup, lemon juice to be served with shaved ice and topped with seltzer water.

The Daisy came to be more elaborate over time calling for a fancy seasonal garnish, shaved ice and use of syrups such as grenadine and orgeat to enhance the base spirit. The Daisy could be made with various base spirits including Brandy, Whiskey, Santa Cruz Rum and Gin, although the first Daisy recipe to be recorded in Thomas’ 1876 edition was for a brandy daisy. For more about the evolution of the Daisy recipe see my posts on Carrot shrub daisy and Blood orange pomegranate daisy and David Wondrich’s wonderful book Imbibe (Wondrich 2015: 130-132).

How to make a brandy Daisy cocktail? Shake & strain into large cocktail glass with shaved ice, top with seltzer
The 1876 brandy daisy appearing in Jerry Thomas’ Bar-tender’s Guide was made by shaking all the ingredients with ice and straining into a small bar glass ‘half full of shaved ice’, topped with ‘Seltzer water from a syphon’. By the 1887 (Thomas 1887: 719) further revised version of the Bar-tender’s Guide the brandy daisy recipe features presentation of the drink in a more elaborate manner served in a large cocktail glass:

“Fill glass one-third full of shaved ice. Shake well, strain into a large cocktail glass, and fill up with Seltzer water from a syphon.”

What is a shrub syrup and how can you use it in cocktails?
A shrub syrup offers a means to preserve in season fruits and vegetables with vinegar flavoured with sugar, herbs and spices. A shrub syrup is a great way to add sourness and complex flavour to cocktails – shrubs use vinegar as a flavouring and preserving agent that naturally intensifies flavours of raw and dried ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. Tristan Stephenson in The Curious Bartender explains how this form of sourness in vinegar is acetic acid, distinct from the citric acid found in citrus fruits such as lemons and can add distinctive flavour to cocktails (Stephenson 2016: 2267). Michael Dietsch in Shrubs describes how vinegar has very refreshing thirst quenching properties including increasing salivation which enhances our sense of having quenched our thirst (Dietsch 2016: 110). Creating a pairing of ingredients for a shrub combines a base ingredient of fruit or vegetable with a choice of sweetener, vinegar and flavourings such as herbs and spices, whereby a complex flavour profile can be concentrated into a syrup for ready use in cocktails, thus simplifying the end mixing of drinks but allowing for depth of flavours. In this cherry shrub syrup for use in a cherry shrub brandy daisy cocktail fresh cherries and their pits are infused with low GI cane sugar, raw cacao beans, vanilla seeds and pod and nutmeg geranium and preserved with a light coconut vinegar.

How to make a shrub syrup
There are different methods for making shrub syrups including a heat based process, slow cold maceration with sugar to form a syrup to which vinegar is later added and a raw process where raw ingredients are added directly to vinegar. For more about methods of shrub making see my post on rhubarb shrub syrup gin fix where I unpack the advantages of these different methods. The slow cold maceration method used here following the process outlined by Michael Dietsch (2016) in his wonderful book Shrubs has the advantage of retaining the brightness of flavour of fruits and vegetables while creating a light and less viscose syrup. The pairing of cherries with raw cacao, vanilla and nutmeg geranium along with cinnamon and pink pepper, use of a low GI cane sugar and coconut vinegar are my  own contribution. The fresh fruit is muddled with low GI cane sugar, herbs and spices and allowed to macerate in the fridge overnight until a thick syrup forms – the cherry flesh and spices are strained out and coconut vinegar added to preserve the syrup which is kept in the fridge. The strained out cherry flesh can be used as a topping for desserts.

How is the cherry shrub brandy daisy different?
The cherry shrub daisy cocktail is a pickle twist on the formula for a brandy daisy offered in the 1887 revised version of Jerry Thomas’ Bar-tender’s Guide which calls for gum syrup, brandy, lemon juice, with dashes of Jamaican rum and orange curacao, served with shaved ice in a large cocktail glass topped with Seltzer water. In this cherry shrub brandy daisy, the lemon and gum are swapped out for a cherry shrub syrup and bee pollen enriched honey syrup for a celebration of summer cherries paired with honey, bee pollen and rich spice – nutmeg geranium, raw cacao, vanilla bean, cinnamon, pink pepper.

Cognac as base spirit with dashes of orange curacao & Jamaican rum – The tart rich sweetness of cherries pairs wonderfully with cognac, orange curacao and Jamaican rum. The later 1887 revised version of the brandy daisy offers a perfect vehicle for exploring this pairing as it already calls for these ingredients with brandy as a base highlighted by accents of orange cordial and dark rum. Rum, cognac, orange cordial seems a somewhat unlikely and very boozy combination – but it is delicious when paired with cherries which have an affinity for the richness of cognac and molasses of dark rum and sweet orange of curacao.

Cherry shrub syrup with raw cacao and vanilla bean – The cherry shrub syrup adds further complexity to the cherry shrub brandy daisy with the addition of raw cacao beans, vanilla beans and nutmeg geranium along with cinnamon and pink pepper with which the cherries are infused along with the nuttiness of their own pits. The cherry shrub syrup uses a low GI cane sugar for a big cane sugar taste with a low GI profile that allows the flavour and deep red colour of the cherries to shine. I have chosen a lighter style coconut vinegar for this cherry shrub syrup as cherries pair well with coconut and this style of vinegar allows the fruit and spices to take centre stage. Raw cacao adds richness and bitterness of dark chocolate while vanilla adds sweetness and heirloom herb nutmeg geranium adds a sweet almost mint like freshness and nutmeg spice that is echoed in the grated nutmeg garnish. I grew the nutmeg geranium in my garden, and it has the most beautiful delicate light purple and magenta striped flowers and minty spicy aromatic leaves.

2:1 honey syrup enriched with bee pollen and nutmeg geranium – Gum syrup is swapped out in the cherry shrub brandy daisy for a rich 2:1 Blue Mountains Ironbark honey syrup enhanced by the addition of bee pollen and nutmeg geranium leaves for a minty and nutmeg spiced note that smells and tastes like a warm summer garden.

Peychaud’s bitters for spice & a hit of red colour to cut through the brandy –  I have added a dash of Peychaud’s bitters to the cherry shrub brandy daisy for added spice and complexity and to boost the red colour of the drink – which does have a lovely pink colour from the shrub – but as the first sensory impression of the cocktail is from our eyes I wanted to evoke the redness of fresh ripe cherries with the boost of red colour from this bitters which loves cognac.

Styling the cherry shrub brandy daisy: Crushed ice, fancy footed wine glass, fresh cherry & nutmeg – The revised 1887 version of the brandy daisy recipe calls for a large cocktail glass one third full of shaved ice and no garnish is specified in the recipe. I have opted for a fancy footed wine glass to present the cherry shrub brandy daisy with a little more ice than called for in the original recipe – this is to enhance the refreshing properties of the shrub syrup and works wonderfully as a summer time Christmas drink for hot Australian summer. The cherry shrub brandy daisy has a granita like presentation that suspends in ice the spiced cherry shrub, cognac, rum, curacao, bitters and rich honey syrup, topped with a dash of soda water and a single fresh cherry and freshly grated nutmeg for a celebration of summer cherries.

Print Recipe
Serves: 1 cup cherry shrub syrup; 3 tablespoons honey syrup; 1 cherry shrub brandy daisy cocktail Cooking Time: Cherry shrub syrup: overnight maceration, 15 minutes preparation, 15 minutes sterilise jar; Honey syrup: 5 minutes; Cherry shrub daisy: 10 minutes


  • Cherry shrub syrup: 1 cup cherries with pits, de-stalked
  • ½ cup low GI cane sugar
  • 3 raw cacao beans
  • 1 vanilla pod, split, and seeds
  • 6 nutmeg geranium leaves
  • Cinnamon stick
  • ½ teaspoon pink pepper
  • ½ cup coconut vinegar
  • 2:1 Honey syrup: 3 tablespoons Ironbark honey
  • 3 tablespoons water, or 2 parts honey to 1 part water by weight
  • 1 teaspoon bee pollen
  • 3 nutmeg geranium leaves
  • Cherry shrub daisy: 2 shots cognac
  • 1 bar spoon Cointreau
  • 1 bar spoon Jamaican rum, Appleton Estate used here
  • 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
  • 1 bar spoon 2:1 Ironbark honey syrup with bee pollen and nutmeg geranium
  • ½ shot cherry shrub syrup
  • Ice cubes to shake, crushed ice to serve
  • Soda water to top
  • Glassware: fancy footed wine glass
  • Garnish: fresh cherry, freshly grated nutmeg, metal straw



Cherry shrub syrup: Wash cherries well and remove stalks


Add cherries to a non-reactive container such as a mason jar and muddle well


Add sugar, nutmeg geranium and spices and stir well to combine


Place the cherry, sugar mixture in the fridge and allow to macerate overnight until a thick syrup has formed


Meanwhile sterilise your jar by washing well and rinsing thoroughly, add jar to a cookie sheet and place in 110 C oven for 15 minutes or until completely dry, boil lid in boiling water on stove top for 5 minutes, allow to air dry – for more information see Resources


Strain the solid cherry flesh, pits, herbs and spices from the syrup using a fine mesh sieve – retain the cherry flesh for another use such as desserts


Combine the cherry syrup with the coconut vinegar


Decant into sterile preserving jar and store in the fridge


2:1 honey syrup: Add honey, hot water, bee pollen and nutmeg geranium leaves to a small saucepan and heat over low heat until bee pollen dissolves


Remove the nutmeg geranium leaves and allow to cool, store the syrup in a clean glass jar in the fridge


Cherry shrub daisy: Prepare your glass by crushing ice – at home ice can be crushed by placing in a clean tea towel and banging with a rolling pin, use an ice spoon to add to your glass


Add cognac, Cointreau, rum, honey syrup, bitters and cherry shrub syrup to a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice cubes


Seal the tin and shake for 30 seconds


Double strain into prepared glass


Top with soda water


Garnish with a single fresh cherry and a grating of fresh nutmeg, serve with a metal straw


Shrub syrups

Michael Dietsch (2016). Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times, Second Edition. Countryman Press: New York.

Cocktail manuals

Tristan Stephenson (2016). The Curious Bartender: The artistry and alchemy of creating the perfect cocktail. Ryland, Peters & Small: London & New York.

Jerry Thomas (1876 revision of 1862 imprint). The Bar-tender’s Guide: or how to mix all kinds of plain and fancy drinks. Dick & Fitzgerald: New York. Available online in EUVS Vintage Cocktail Books library.

Jerry Thomas (1887, 2016 reprint). Jerry Thomas’ Bar-tender’s Guide: How to mix all kinds of plain and fancy drinks. Dick & Fitzgerald: New York, reprint by Dover Publications: New York.

David Wondrich (2015). Imbibe. Perigree: New York.

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