How To Make Shrub Drinks

December 31, 2014 · 6 comments

Strawberry Rosemary Shrub | rickandkathy.comUntil we bought a great book on how to grow and cook kale and stumbled accidentally on a couple of  shrub recipes, we weren’t even aware that the delightful rainbow of beverage flavors known as “shrubs” existed.

Some of the best things in my life have come along by happy accident, like most of my books, Rick, and now, this whole world of fermented cocktail shrubs.

Who would have thought the curiously named “drinkable vinegars” could be so delicious, healthful, and super easy-to-make?

Strawberry Rosemary Shrub |
The name “shrub” comes from the Arabic “sharab,” meaning beverage, and is linked linguistically to sherbet, sorbet, and syrup, but my inner four-year old gets a chuckle anyway from having used a few sprigs from our favorite bushes for our strawberry rosemary shrub (recipe below).

Shrub… bush… get it? Ha ha. My humor is a BIG hit with the pre-school crowd.

Strawberry Rosemary Shrub |
There are a handful of ways to make shrubs, but because we’re big fans of all things fermented (cabbage, bread, grapes, and so on), we prefer the “cold process” that keeps the fruit raw and allows the fresh vibrancy of flavor to shine through.

Here’s how it works:

Some combination of fruit, vegetables, herbs and/or spices + sugar + a few days + vinegar + a week or two of partying at room temperature with airborne yeasts and microbes = an easy and delightful addition to your beverage repertoire.

Mix a tablespoon of the shrub with a handful of ice cubes and water for a thirst-quenching alternative to soda, use it as an intriguing base for salad dressings, or pour yourself into the creative swirl of sweet and savory cocktails and spritzers.

strawberry best part is that, according to our copy of the marvelous new book on how to make shrub drinks by Michael Dietsch (surprise!), they’re almost impossible to screw up.

Prefer more tang? Amp up the vinegar. Love a big fruit-forward blast? Shift it up from a 1 fruit – 1 sugar – 1 vinegar ratio to a 2 – 1 – 1 ratio.

It’s perfect when it tastes right to you.

Strawberry Rosemary Shrub |
Just make sure you use a thoroughly clean jar (wash and boil it for 10 minutes if you run on the safe side), and wash your fruit and herbs well but gently.

The food-safety gurus suggest going so far as to “sanitize” your fruit by soaking it in 1 tbs white vinegar to 6 cups water for 10 minutes and treating your herbs to a quick bath of 1 tsp chlorine bleach to 6 cups water (rinse with cold, blot dry) to nuke any nasty microbes, but in our kitchen, this is called “overkill.”

Strawberry Rosemary Shrub |
The list of equipment needed for cold processing is minimal. Beyond the basics and a good knife and cutting board, you’ll want to consider stocking your kitchen with the following:

Citrus juicer (Cooks Illustrated’s top recommendation is an inexpensive Amco manual juicer)

A wooden muddler

Fine-meshed strainer (the Cooks Illustrated winner is the CIA Masters Collection 6 3/4-Inch Mesh Strainer)

Funnel (the Cooks Illustrated top pick for funnels is the Progressive Collapsible Funnel)

Jars or bottles and tops for storage

Strawberry Rosemary Shrub |
For use in your favorite cocktail shrub, you’ll probably also be looking for a decent cocktail shaker (the Cooks Illustrated recommendation is the Metrokane Cocktail Shaker, and maybe a jigger, but if you’re reading this, you probably already have those, right?

Finally, you’ll want to consider putting the current bible of shrubs, Michael Dietsch’s Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times, on your Christmas or birthday wish list. This well-written, gorgeously illustrated shrub drink recipe collection is chock full of historical insights, shopping tips, and everything you need to know to dive in.

Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times


Happy shrubbing!


How to Make a Strawberry Rosemary Shrub


  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 2 tbs rosemary
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar


  1. Muddle the strawberries in a glass canning jar
  2. Add fresh rosemary, lightly chopped
  3. Stir in the sugar to mix well
  4. Cover and store in the fridge for 1-2 days
  5. Add the vinegar and let sit at room temperature for about a week
  6. Strain out the solid ingredients
  7. Time to mix cocktails or enjoy with soda water over ice

Letting the shrub continue to ferment at room temperature will add complexity to the flavor.

After two weeks have elapsed, store in the refrigerator to enjoy whenever the mood arises. We’re still experimenting with different alcohols with this, but so far, tequila and rum have come out as winners. A shot each of the shrub and your weapon of choice over ice, topped off with soda water…. ahhh!

The strawberry rosemary shrub recipe came from the book I mentioned above:

The Book of Kale and Friends: 14 Easy-To-Grow Superfoods with 130+ Recipes

Handy Shrub-Making Resources:

Amco Enameled Aluminum Lemon Squeezer

Tablecraft Natural Wood Muddler


CIA Masters Collection 6 3/4-Inch Mesh Strainer


Progressive Collapsible Funnel

Metrokane Cocktail Shaker

And because we always taste first with our eyes, a nice quality cocktail glass for your shrub concoctions is a perfect prelude to first sips. Here’s one of our favorites:

Bee Pattern Goblets


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandi Fentiman January 1, 2015 at 7:38 pm

Looks interesting! You’ll have to show me some time. Maybe I could have a sip of yours some time as well. 🙂


kathy January 2, 2015 at 5:38 pm

Of course! Happy to share…


Katherine Ernst January 1, 2015 at 2:50 pm

Hi rick and Kathy, happy New Year! This shrub looked interesting and am certain I will try it. We took your advice on choice of coffee grinder and love it. Many thanks. This is like having a personal shopper and we all benefit. So thanks ! We are busy as ever and both still working.Just returned from Paris for the third year of showing with the SNBA at the Louvre.We have a little granddaughter,18 months we adore and see every week. Lucky us.
All our best wishes go out to you for joy, and good health. Kathy Ernst.


kathy January 2, 2015 at 5:37 pm

Kathy! So lovely to hear from you… I never eat a butter tart without thinking of you.
Glad the coffee grinder is working well for you. We love the thought of being personal shoppers and taste testers!


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