As a kid, Jamie Swofford drank pickle juice straight from the jar. His affinity for vinegar only grew as his grandmother made him slurp down a capful of the tart substance to ward off mosquitoes before letting him play on the family farmland. Now, Swofford runs Old North Farm with his wife, Keia Mastrianni, on that same land in Cleveland County.
Formerly a chef in Charlotte, Swofford grows more than 100 types of organic crops — tomatoes, beets, cucumbers, peppers, and more — for other local chefs on his two and a half acres. Some of his yield is bottled as Old North Shrub, a line of drinking vinegars that he first created in 2015 for Charlotte’s Free Range Brewing. Swofford either forages or harvests most of the ingredients involved, taking inspiration from the colonial drink known as shrub — a beverage initially derived from syrup left over from fruit preservation and thought to help with digestion.
State Grape, his personal favorite flavor, features notes of muscadine, ginger, hibiscus, and rose hip, while Two in a Bush highlights strawberries, chamomile, and lemon verbena. Mixed with sparkling water or a liquor of your choosing, these libations offer a homegrown celebration of flavor.
To learn more about Old North Shrub, visit oldnorthshrub.com.