The Queens Kickshaw (40-17 Broadway, Astoria)
While The Queens Kickshaw has gathered quite a buzz for their grown-up grilled cheese sandwiches (gouda with guava jam, black bean hummus, & pickled jalapenos--just one of my favorites) this gorgeous, eco-friendly sandwich and gourmet coffee shop has now extended to summer hours and acquired a beer & wine license.
Now open daily until 1 a.m. (from 7:30 a.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. weekends--sandwiches start at 11 a.m. daily with Egg & Cheese at 9 a.m. weekends), TQK is offering an impressive and diverse selection of international beer & cider, along with a carefully edited wine selection and cheese plates.
But perhaps the most exciting addition to the menu (offered beginning today) are the vinegar cordials, a traditional non-alcoholic fizz that dates back as far as Roman times, known as the "shrub". The idea came to Ben Sandler (co-owner with wife Jennifer Lim), when he realized he was discarding an unused treasure in the juices left after pickling the blueberries and golden raisins for some of the sandwich accompaniments. "We already had P&H Sodas, so I fugured I would try mixing the fruit & spices with the seltzer." When he asked the guys from P&H what they thought, they informed him it is a traditional drink known as a "shrub", directing him to a 2008 article from the New York Times, which reads, "if chugging vinegar sounds curious to you as well, be apprised that this centuries-old practice has only recently been abandoned."
The two shrubs currently offered feature a base of organic cane sugar and apple cider vinegar infused with blueberry-ginger-lemon or golden raisin-star anise-cinnamon. These mature sodas are insanely refreshing, smart, sweet, and gently tart... and all-around delicious. Less adventurous drinkers can still enjoy the delicious homemade P&H Sodas, available in lime, cream, hibiscus, & ginger.
Sandler has even toyed with a jalapeno version of the shrub, admittedly a more acquired taste. While he hopes the shrubs are embraced by the customers, he laughs to himself, "I thought this would be a great way to avoid wasting something delicious we were discarding, but now we might sell more shrubs than the pickles we produce to make them!"