March 27, 2015
People have been fermenting fruit into alcohol since the beginning of civilization. It follows, then, that old alcohol – vinegar – has been a staple of our diet for at least as long. The Mesopotamians made vinegar from dates, the Romans made vinegar from grapes, and from China to Greece, nearly every other kind of fruit has been discovered in vinegar form at the bottom of some ancient barrel.
So why does it feel fresh to see drinking vinegars being produced in this country? Everything old is new again – again. Long popular in Japan and Korea, and of course important to some niches in shrub and switchel form, drinking vinegars provide a perfect counterpoint to rich meals. Just mix a tablespoon or two with a bit of sparkling water. Or if so inclined, add a jigger of vodka.
I’m besotted with the shiso offering from Genki-Su, a company that makes Japanese-style coconut vinegar-based drinking vinegars. It’s also worth checking out the Pok Pok line; theirs was the first drinking vinegar I ever tried, and I've had at least one of their bottles in my cupboard ever since.
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