This celery shrub is inspired by Cel-Ray, a fixture in Jewish delicatessens in New York City. Celery tonic, or celery soda, is certainly an acquired taste, but those who love it can’t imagine ever living without it. I first encountered it at Katz’s Delicatessen on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Take a bit of shrub, top it with soda, and pretend you’re in New York.
Wash celery stalks and, if necessary, scrub with a vegetable brush to remove dirt. Cut the stalks into 1-inch pieces.
Add celery to blender and cover with about ½ cup water.
Start the blender on low, and as the celery starts to get chopped up, turn the speed up to purée. If, after about 30 seconds, the mixture is still very thick and chunky, add a little more water.
Place a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl. Line with a piece of cheesecloth if desired. Pour the celery mixture through the strainer. Press or squeeze the celery puree to express the juice into the bowl.
Pour celery juice into a sanitized jar. Add sugar and cider vinegar. Cap the jar and shake to combine. Refrigerate, shaking well every other day or so to dissolve sugar.