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Metro Detroit company makes drinkable vinegar flavored with local produce

Drinkable vinegar mixes with alcohol

Bartender, pour my friend and I another shot of … vinegar. That’s probably not a phrase you have uttered at your favorite watering hole, right? Well, a metro Detroit husband and wife team is producing drinkable vinegar and more and more people are enjoying this unique mixture of all sorts of concoctions, including their assortment of tasty adult beverages.

McClary's at their Rust Belt location in Ferndale

McClary’s at their Rust Belt location in Ferndale

Ferndale’s McClary Bros. Hand Crafted Flavored Drinking Vinegars uses organic vinegar as its base. The end product, after mixing in mostly Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables, is not the ordinary. If you’re trying to imagine the taste, think more sweet and sour bitters than Italian dressing.

Drinkable vinegar or “shrub” as it’s called is a mix of organic, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar combined with seasonal fruit, other special spices and organic cane sugar.

Are you sold yet?

A little curious maybe?

All you have to do is pull up to the bar and take a sip and your mind and taste buds just might be changed.

Maybe you’ve had drinkable vinegar before, but this one is Michigan made. From its start through the 30-day production process, Josh and his wife Jess take special care to represent our local flavor in the end product.

“Some people drink the mixture as a cocktail and some mix it with sparkling water or an adult beverage. The combinations are endless,” says McClary Bros. co-founder Josh McClary.

Lisa Brancato, a radio account executive, is a raving fan of McClary Bros. shrubs. She says her personal favorite is Bourbon mixed with the Michigan Apple Pie shrub.

The business venture was launched in June of 2013. Jess McClary came up with the original idea to bottle and sell the seasonal versions of the drink to individuals and bars in the area. “The part we enjoy most is buying produce and turning it into something cool,” he added.

McClary's vinegar with Detroit's Two James Vodka

McClary’s vinegar with Detroit’s Two James Vodka

Each week the McClary’s visit local farmers’ markets and farm co-ops across Southeast Michigan for fresh ingredients. “The only foods we bring in from outside the area are foods that are not grown here and only during seasons when we are not harvesting here in Michigan,” says McClary.

On any given Saturday or Sunday, the couple can be found selling and offering samples to new converts at Rustbelt Market at the corner of Nine Mile and Woodward in Ferndale.

Several watering holes and restaurants in the area offer cocktails made with McClary’s vinegars. After less than a year in business, they have expanded to Atlanta and have hopes for even broader distribution as popularity grows.

Josh and Jeff aren’t brothers so where did the name of the business come from?  McClary Bros. is named for the couple’s three-and-a-half-year-old twins.

This entrepreneurial venture isn’t their first. The family started out with a bakery of goods also made with Michigan produce. After that Jess came up with the idea for the Shrub using the same fresh Michigan produce.

Several area watering holes have added shrubs to their adult beverage menus.

Tasting room at Two James Spirits

Tasting room at Two James Spirits

“Once people taste shrubs in their favorite drink, their hooked,” says Andy Mohr, managing partner of Two James Spirits in Corktown. “The word is spreading. The fact McClary Bros. shrub is made right here in Ferndale drives people to give it a try.”

Two James, Detroit’s first distillery since prohibition, has a tasting room where anyone of age can belly up to the bar to discover their favorite shrub, mixed with one of their in-house gins or vodkas.

Remember before the age of refrigerators, vinegar was a common fruit preservative and was also used to make alcohol suitable for drinking.

For more on McClary Bros. drinkable vinegar, contact or visit their website at
Here’s a highlight of seasonal flavors offered by McClary Bros.:

Fall and winter flavors:

Apple Pie, Beet & Carrot, Blood Orange with Michigan Honey (in development), and a special flavor TBA to be released in March for Marche Du Nain Rouge (All are Michigan fruits except Blood Orange)

Spring/Summer flavors:

Strawberry Rhubarb, Blueberry, Plum, Peach, Paw Paw, Basil, Fig Leaf, Mint (all Michigan produce) 

You can find drinkable vinegar at the following bars, restaurants and distilleries in Michigan: Local Bar & Kitchen, (Ferndale), The Root Restaurant (White Lake), Goodnight Gracie / D’Amato’s (bar & restaurant in Royal Oak), Valentine Distilling (Ferndale), Two James Spirits (Corktown). 

You can buy drinkable vinegar at the following retail locations in the Detroit Metro: Our shop at The Rustbelt Market (Ferndale), Drought store in Shinola (Midtown), City Bird & Nest (Midtown), The Produce Station (Ann Arbor).

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