Scott Gardner's Smuggler's Solution

Scott Gardner’s Smuggler’s Solution Cocktail

Written by Becky

I always like a good story. So when Scott Gardner shared the story of this cocktail at one of our SLCmixers this past semester I was immediately swooned over the tale and the bright spring flavor didn’t hurt either.

Scott Gardener Mixologist of Finca in Salt Lake City

Scott Gardner is the bartender at Finca, a Spanish tapas restaurant in Salt Lake. We’ve gotten to know him through many of the events we’ve had a pleasure of doing together. And not only is he a fabulous guy to have around, He was awarded Salt Lake Magazine’s Best Mixologist this year. I’ve learned a lot about cocktails from Scott. After drinking an apricot shrub cocktail made by Scott last fall, I was especially excited to hear what a shrub was. A shrub is a “new” old trend in cocktail making. I learned that shrub comes from the arabic word “to drink,” and is generally one part juice or fruit macerated with sugar and boiled with vinegar, creating a way to preserve fruit. Today, he’s sharing the tale of the Smuggler’s Solution plus his incredible recipe.

The name ‘Smuggler’s Solution’ is mostly in reference to the shrub portion of the drink. A shrub is, quite simply, a fruit syrup preserved with the addition of vinegar. It is a fantastically refreshing additive to still or sparkling water in the summertime to make a quick and tasty sipper. Because of it’s ability to provide both sweetness and acidity, it’s a shoe-in for cocktails as well. Some of the earliest applications of shrubs in booze were used by smugglers in the mid to late 17th century. Those who didn’t want to pay the tremendous taxes on importing liquor (namely, rum) into England would often sink their barrels and drag them behind their ship before making port. After unloading the rest of their cargo, they’d come back in the middle of the night to pull the barrels up from the sea. The contents of these submerged vessels, now fouled by sea water, weren’t the tastiest upon their own merit. The smugglers’ solution? mix in a portion of a deliciously sweet and tart fruit shrub to mask the ‘off’ taste of their cargo. So, now to the recipe…

Scott Gardener’s Smuggler’s Solution Cocktail

Rating: 51


  • Martini Glass – Up – Thyme Sprig
  • for the strawberry thyme shrub
  • 2 pints fresh strawberries (about 4 cups,quartered)
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • for the cocktail
  • 1.5 oz reposado tequila
  • .5 oz strawberry thyme shrub
  • .5 oz amontillado sherry
  • .25 oz green chartreuse
  • 1 dash adam elmegirab's boker's bitters


    for the strawberry thyme shrub
  1. Combine water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the strawberries and thyme and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add in the vinegar and bring back to a simmer for 5-ish minutes. Remove from the heat and let rest for 30 mins, at which point you can strain the shrub off the solids and refrigerate.
  2. for the cocktail
  3. Reduce the .5 ounces of chartreuse to .25 ounces by simmering in a small pan. Let cool
  4. Add all ingredients to a mixing tin, add ice, shake vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Double strain (hawthorn strainer and then through a fine mesh basket strainer) into a chilled cocktail glass that has been rubbed with a good sized sprig of fresh thyme. You can leave the thyme in the glass as you pour to provide aesthetic, as well as to increase the amount of flavor the thyme provides.


To make a shrub with any fruit, the exact ratio is 4 cups fruit, to 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and 2 cups vinegar. Shrubs are great for preserving flavors of one season to use in the next, as this mixture will keep almost indefinitely when refrigerated.

Typically, one would stir a drink like this. There is nothing about the ingredients that would suggest you shake this drink. However, Scott suggests that with shrubs in particular, shaking brings out a better flavor and texture in the cocktail. This is one case, where you'd shake clear ingredients.

For more cocktail recipes from local mixologists check out this post on

Comments (3)

  1. I love making shrubs. Recently I made a shrub by reducing the sugar by half and using Slide Ridge Honey Wine Vinegar. It is the best strawberry rhubarb concoction ever! Great in vodka, great in tequila, great in bourbon. Great in soda water.

  2. Great story. I read about shrubs last summer but had totally forgotten about them. I think homemade shrubs would be great party/hostess gifts. Thanks for sharing and I hope all is well!

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