shrubs (the kind you drink!)

My daughter-in-law-to-be’s parents gave us a book for the holidays called Shrubs – An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times by Michael Dietsch. I had never heard of a shrub before but since they are from Northern California where all cool trends start, I eagerly read more to enlighten myself!


A shrub is a colonial day drink, derived from the Arabic word sharab, to drink. It’s a concentrated syrup made from fruit, vinegar and sugar and then mixed with water, seltzer or alcohol.

I decided to try the Fresh Ginger Shrub since it was used in the recipe for Moscow Mules in the next chapter. I peeled 4 or 5 large pieces of fresh ginger, cut them into smaller pieces and pulsed them in the food processor. Then I squeezed the pureed ginger into a sieve lined with paper towel to get 1/2 cup of ginger juice. I added 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar and 1/3 cup sugar and put it in a mason jar.


When I tested my shrub, my mouth puckered! This was spicy from the ginger and tangy from the apple cider vinegar. But it’s meant to be a concentrate so I knew enough to wait until I mixed it with vodka and lime juice!

The next day I made the Moscow Mules from the book. They called for 2 oz vodka, 1 oz fresh lime juice, 3/4 oz fresh ginger shrub and soda water. Friends were over for dinner and they were game to try the drink so I filled four glasses with ice, followed the recipe, added a little tonic water and a lime garnish and we clinked our glasses and drank. The faces we made were not pretty! This was a tart drink that tasted like a lot of ginger and apple cider vinegar! With the addition of more vodka and tonic, we got the ratios right and it was a very refreshing summer cocktail.

Most of the recipes involve fruit as the original idea behind a shrub was the vinegar would preserve the fruit before the days of refrigeration. The NYTimes has a recipe for Summer Fruit Shrub from the same book if you are curious to try making one but I scared you off with the ginger recipe! If you like kombucha, you will probably like shrubs. Let us know if you try it!




5 thoughts on “shrubs (the kind you drink!)

  1. acc

    My cousin’s lobsterman boyfriend moved to NYC with her and in search of something to do (I thought he should start a lobster roll truck) he joined up with a company selling switchel, a shrub made from maple syrup (in Brooklyn of course). Switchel turned out not to be as popular as lobsters and he is back on the coast of Maine. See if it’s in your book!


  2. Susan Mack

    I have been making shrubs since March 2016 when my girlfriend introduced me to the concept; all last summer and this one, I enjoy them with seltzer or on cocktails as a refreshing summer beverage. I am also an ardent Kombucha maker/drinker, so I get what you mean; the whole vinegar thing makes shrubs an acquired taste. Many people seem to turned off even by the smell of it. Currently, I have 3 shrubs on hand: cranberry-allspice, blueberry-ginger, and cucumber. I know you are a big Hendrick’s gin fan, so you might want to make the cucumber shrub next because that with the Hendrick’s and a squeeze of lime makes a delicious G&T! And when you get over the shrubs, you will be drawn to move on to my latest obsession: digestive bitters 😂



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