How to Make a Shrub Drink

A shrub drink is a simple, refreshing beverage made with vinegar and fruit! Drink it as a cocktail or mocktail. …

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

A shrub drink is a simple, refreshing beverage made with vinegar and fruit! Drink it as a cocktail or mocktail. 

Shrub drink

Here’s a fruity, refreshing drink everyone should try at least once: the Shrub! This sweet and sour drink works as a cocktail or a mocktail, pairing a fruity vinegar syrup with soda. This historical drink has become popular at bars, restaurants and with home cooks in the past years, because it’s so refreshing and ripe for unlimited fruity variations. It’s very simple to make a shrub drink at home: all you need are 2 days and a bit of fruit. It makes a killer cocktail and just as killer mocktail!

What is a shrub?

The shrub is a drink made with a fruit-infused vinegar syrup and sparkling water, either as a soft drink or with alcohol to make it a cocktail. The drink stems back to 17th century England, where vinegar was used to preserve berries and other fruits. Shrubs became popular in America in the 19th century. The typical method was to pour vinegar over berries and allow the mixture to ferment for a few days, then add sugar or honey and reduce the mixture into a syrup.

Shrubs went out of fashion after the invention of refrigeration, but they have surged in popularity today. They’re featured on American bar and restaurant menus, where bartenders often have their own signature flavors and blends.

Shrub drink

Making the shrub syrup

After we enjoyed a basil shrub on a recent night out, we were inspired to try a hand at shrub making ourselves. Turns out, it’s incredibly simple and easily customizable to the ingredients you have on hand. Here’s the basic process:

  • Combine equal parts sugar and vinegar. We like the flavor of red wine vinegar here, but you can also use apple cider vinegar, Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar. Stay away from white vinegar (it’s much too strong) or balsamic vinegar (also too strong). You can add a drizzle of balsamic to a wine or cider vinegar if you like the flavor.
  • Chop and muddle fruit, then add to the vinegar. Use the same quantity of sugar and vinegar. This is where you can get creative! We used blueberries here and gently mashed them before adding to the vinegar mixture. Other ideas? Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, apples, peaches, pears or plums would work well here.
  • Add herbs or spices if desired. If you’d like, add any herbs you have on hand or whole spices. Some ideas include rosemary, thyme, mint, sage, cardamom pods, peppercorns, star anise, or cinnamon sticks.
  • Refrigerate for 2 days, then strain. This allows the flavors to fully permeate into the syrup. After 2 days, strain through a fine mesh strainer.
What is a shrub

How to make a shrub drink (mocktail)

Got your shrub syrup? Now you can make a shrub drink! One nice thing about a shrub is that it’s equally as good as a cocktail and a mocktail (we think). Mixing the syrup with bubbles makes a tangy, sweet tart drink that’s incredibly refreshing. Here’s what to do:

  • Add 1 ounce shrub syrup and 3 ounces sparkling water to a glass. You can mix it right in the glass! 1 ounce equals 2 tablespoons, if you’re measuring with tablespoons.
  • Stir well! If you don’t stir well and you drink with a straw, you can get a surprisingly vinegary first sip (it happened to us). Make sure it’s full integrated as a drink.
  • Garnish. Add ice and garnish with fresh berries and herbs.
Shrub drink

How to make a shrub cocktail

A shrub cocktail is a fun and refreshing way to make a summer drink. It’s great for parties or vacations because you can mix up a big jar of the syrup in advance. The recipe below makes 1 ½ cups shrub syrup, enough for 12 drinks. Here’s how to make a shrub cocktail:

  • Add 1 ounce shrub syrup, 1 ½ ounces gin or aquavit, 1 teaspoon simple syrup and 2 ounces sparkling water to a glass. The flavors are great with gin, though you could use vodka as well. We also like it with aquavit, a Scandinavian distilled spirit. We also found the flavors could use a little extra sweetness for the cocktail version: you can use simple syrup or maple syrup.
  • Stir well! Stir well to make sure the syrup becomes fully incorporated in the drink.
  • Garnish. Add ice and garnish with fresh berries and herbs.
Shrub cocktail

More fruity drinks

Love to mix up special drinks? Here are a few more fun cocktails and mocktails that are great for summer:

This shrub drink recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Shrub drink

How to Make a Shrub (Cocktail or Non-Alcoholic)


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 days
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 48 hours
  • Yield: 1 ½ cups syrup

Description

The shrub drink is a simple, refreshing beverage made with vinegar and fruit! Drink it as a cocktail or mocktail.


Ingredients

For the syrup (makes 1 ½ cups, enough for 12 drinks)

  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup fruit, chopped or muddled* (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, plums, apples, pears, etc)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Optional: add whole herbs or spices like rosemary, mint, thyme, cardamom pods, peppercorns, star anise, etc

For the cocktail

  • 1 ounce** shrub syrup
  • 1 ½ ounce gin or aquavit
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup or maple syrup
  • 2 ounces sparkling water

For the mocktail

  • 1 ounce shrub syrup
  • 6 to 8 ounces sparkling water (to taste)

Instructions

  1. Make the syrup (2 days): In a covered container, stir together the vinegar and sugar. Chop and/or muddle (lightly mash) the fruit and add it to the mixture, along with any whole herbs. Refrigerate for 2 days.
  2. Strain: Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a jar.
  3. Make the drinks: When ready to drink, place the shrub syrup, optional gin or aquavit and simple syrup, and sparkling water in a glass and stir well. If desired, garnish with more fruit and herbs.

Notes

*Shown in the photograph is a blueberry mint shrub.

**1 ounce = 2 tablespoons

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: Cocktail
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Shrub drink, shrub cocktail, what is a shrub

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This virgin margarita tastes just as good as the real thing! This mocktail is tangy and lightly sweet, with a secret ingredient that takes it over the top. Craving a margarita but can’t drink? Or serving a crowd and need a non-alcoholic option? Enter this virgin margarita! It’s tangy and refreshing, punctuated by that classic salt rim. Even better, it’s got a surprise that brings a bit of “funk” to the flavor that’s reminiscent of tequila. With a focus on tart flavors and balanced with just enough sweet, it’s truly the mocktail version of our Classic Margarita! (Side benefit: it’s lower calorie too!) Here are all our secrets. What’s in this virgin margarita? Here’s how to make everyone’s favorite cocktail into a margarita mocktail! The margarita is a classic alcoholic drink on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails. This means that there’s an “official” definition of the margarita: tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice. But how to make that taste as intriguing…with no alcohol at all? (A zero-proof margarita, if you will?) Here’s what we used did: Lime juice: Always. Lemon juice: Using lemon as well as lime brings nuance to the citrus. Tonic water: Bubbles add a sparkle! […]

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This virgin margarita tastes just as good as the real thing! This mocktail is tangy and lightly sweet, with a secret ingredient that takes it over the top.

Margarita mocktail

Craving a margarita but can’t drink? Or serving a crowd and need a non-alcoholic option? Enter this virgin margarita! It’s tangy and refreshing, punctuated by that classic salt rim. Even better, it’s got a surprise that brings a bit of “funk” to the flavor that’s reminiscent of tequila. With a focus on tart flavors and balanced with just enough sweet, it’s truly the mocktail version of our Classic Margarita! (Side benefit: it’s lower calorie too!) Here are all our secrets.

What’s in this virgin margarita?

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  • Lime juice: Always.
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Virgin margarita

The secret? Pickle juice.

The secret to making this virgin margarita taste over the top delicious? Pickle juice. Adding intrigue to the flavor of a mocktail is essential to making them more than just fruit juice. It’s customary to experiment with all sorts of things, including non-alcoholic spirits. But we didn’t want to add a special ingredient you’d have to purchase specially.

That’s where pickle juice comes in! It brings a briny funk to this virgin margarita that makes you feel like there’s a little alcohol in it. But it’s not so much that it’s noticeable! It’s also totally optional, so you don’t have to do it if it weirds you out. But after multiple taste tests, pickle juice in a virgin margarita was the clear winner!

Less sugar than the standard virgin margarita!

We love our cocktails crisp and tart around here. So just like our Classic Margarita, there’s barely any added sugar in this margarita. This stands out from the standard margarita mocktail, which is usually so sickly sweet it’s barely a margarita at all! This shouldn’t taste like sweet syrupy juice: it should be crisp and tart. The sugar comes from two sources:

  • Only 1/4 teaspoon maple syrup or simple syrup (use whichever you’d like: maple syrup is a great natural sweetener with no refined sugar)
  • A hint of sugar in the tonic water
Virgin margarita

What is tonic water? Can I use sparkling water?

Tonic water is a carbonated water that also contains quinine and is lightly sweetened. It was originally was used against malaria, but these days the quinine levels are much lower. Quinine adds a slightly bitter flavor, but its not as detectable with today’s lower levels. Even so, if you taste tonic water there’s something about the nuance of bitter and sweet which is hard to replace.

True cocktails and mocktails use tonic water, so we’d recommend finding some if you can! Sparkling water adds only bubbles, but doesn’t have the nuance in flavor. We buy a brand that comes in small cans, which is nice since you’ll only use a little in this virgin margarita.

Virgin margarita

More margarita variations

If you also drink alcohol (or have friends who do), we’ve got lots more variations on this classic drink! Here are some of our favorites:

Margarita mocktail

When to serve a virgin margarita

Anytime works for a virgin margarita! This one is perfect as a:

  • Zero proof margarita for guests who don’t drink alcohol
  • Mocktail for pregnant women
  • Baby shower drink (make one for mom, then classic margaritas for guests)
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Virgin margarita

Virgin Margarita


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This virgin margarita tastes just as good as the real thing! This mocktail is tangy and lightly sweet, with a secret ingredient that takes it over the top.


Ingredients

  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon maple syrup or simple syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon pickle juice (optional but recommended!)
  • 3 ounces tonic water
  • For the garnish: Lime wheel

Instructions

  1. Cut a notch in a lime wedge, then run the lime around the rim of a glass. Dip the edge of the rim into a plate of flaky sea salt (or for a festive look, use Margarita Salt).
  2. In the serving glass, stir together the lime juice, lemon juice, maple syrup, and pickle juice (adds just the right funky flavor to mimic tequila). Add the tonic water and ice. Garnish with a lime wheel and serve.

  • Category: Mocktail
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: Virgin Margarita, Margarita Mocktail, Zero Proof Margarita

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