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Shrub cocktails: 5 of the best cocktail recipes

by CRAFTR team

Full shrub cocktail craft spriits

If you came to this article thinking that we were going to be talking about small garden bushes, then you might be in the wrong place. In the drinks world, a shrub is a concentrated syrup that mixes together fruit, sugar and vinegar (and sometimes herbs & spices). It’s a tasty mix that is a relatively sweet, acidic mix that you can drink solo or use as a mixer. You might see them referred to as ‘drinking vinegars’ as apple cider vinegar is often used as a base. They’ve become increasingly popular as a cocktail ingredient because they’re versatile and a good alternative to fruit juices. We’ve selected some of our favourite shrub cocktails from around the world and will talk through how to make your own shrub.    

Full 1 craftr craft spirits cocktails shrub

First up we have a berry shrub based cocktail by @kimbroughdaniels which uses a mixture of berries (blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries). Although you just have this as a really simple mocktail, you could also throw in some vodka or tequila depending on your preference. If you can find any berries in your local area, they’d also make a great seasonal shrub.

Following on the seasonal theme, below we have a cocktail by one of our favourite mixologists, @sashadallasgirl, which is aptly called a “Perfect Pear-ing”. It uses a chai pear shrub which gives it a sweet yet spicy flavour, which is balanced with rye whiskey, ginger liqueur, lemon juice and soda water. 

Full 2 craftr craft spirits cocktails shrub

It’s pretty easy to make your own shrub and there are endless possibilities for flavour combinations and pairings. There are two methods (cold and warm) but to start with you need 3 basic ingredients:

  • sugar (it’s fine to use granulated white sugar but you can experiment to give different flavours)

  • vinegar – most of the time people use red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar but you can also mix it up with balsamic vinegar or any others

  • fruit – the possibilities are endless. You can use berries, figs, apples, pears, plums and even cucumbers and rhubarb

You can also throw in lots of other ingredients as extra flavourings such as peppercorns, basil, rosemary, thyme, and fennel. Below we’ve got an example more complex tasting cocktail with a shrub made from blackberries, cacao nib and sage. It’s a Kentucky Bramble by @thegameologist which mixes the sweetness of blackberries with the aromatic cacao and sage with bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup and some Angostura bitters.    

Full 3 craftr craft spirits cocktails shrub

It’s super simple once you have your ingredients. Usually, you stick to the ratio of 1:1:1 of fruit, vinegar and sugar. Using the hot method, you start by heating the sugar and vinegar gently until the sugar is dissolved then adding the fruit or herbs to release the juices or flavours. Cool and strain out any solids then bottle. You should let the fruit simmer for enough time to allow it to infuse properly – there’s no definitive rule as it depends on your fruit!

The cold method is even easier but might not result in as powerful a flavour. Take a mason jar, add in the fruit and vinegar, shake for about 30 seconds then leave to infuse at room temperature for a week (shaking every day to mix it around). After a week, strain out the fruit, add the sugar and shake until the sugar has dissolved and pop it in the fridge for a week. It’s super simple and is sure to impress next time you mix up some drinks as home. Remember you could also make some mocktails by just adding some soda water or lemonade to your shrub!

Full 4 craftr craft spirits cocktails shrub

Above to show the versatility of the shrub, we’ve got a classic twist on a dark and stormy cocktail by @wellsteadshrubs (a company that make pre-made shrub drinks in Australia) which mixes dark rum, and a pear and ginger shrub which is then topped up with ginger ale. It’s a perfect refresher that won’t be overly sweet!

To finish off, we’ve got a greater looking shrub to remind us of Summer by @garnish_girl. Called the Peachy Keen, it’s a grea mix of tequila, ginger peach shrub, lemon juice, honey, bitters, and soda. If you’re in need of a tasty drink, the shrub is definitely a way to experiment with new flavours. It’s so simple to make at home – you can really personalise your cocktails and show off to your friends!   

Full 5 craftr craft spirits cocktails shrub

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