Shrubs Are the Key to an Awesome Mocktail

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Susanna Hopler)

Shrubs: They’re fun to say and even more fun to drink!

But first of all, what the heck is a shrub? A shrub is a concentrated syrup made from whole fruit, vinegar, and sugar. It’s then mixed with sparkling soda water for a delightful non-alcoholic beverage. If you’re drinking a shrub, you’re enjoying a fruity drunk that is sweet, refreshing, and a teeny bit tart (thanks to the vinegar).

Although there are several different methods for making shrubs, the most common process involves creating a fruit-flavored vinegar and sweetening it with sugar. Of course, you can make your own (see below!) or you can buy some that are already made for you. Whichever you decide to do, they should definitely be added to your next sober celebration.

Here are 6 of our favorites you can purchase.

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(Image credit: Emily Han)
  1. Pineapple Allspice, $10 for eight ounces at Shrub District: Made with fresh pineapple, allspice berries, and orange oil, this tropical shrub is perfect for your next tiki party. Refreshing with a warming finish, mix it with coconut water for a virgin piña colada.
  2. Cherry & Thyme Shrub, $20 for 8.5 ounces at Strongwater: This fragrant shrub can be used in both food and drink — the makers recommend using it as a marinade or adding it to salad dressing, but it also works well in cocktails and mocktails. Sweetness from the cherries and raw Colorado honey balance the tartness of apple cider vinegar in this tonic, made without added sugar or processed fruit juices.
  3. Grapefruit Vanilla Shrub, $19 for 12.7 ounces at Element Shrub: Super-tart grapefruit mellows out in this shrub, thanks to fresh Masagascar vanilla beans and a hint of spicy ginger, which gives it a warming effect. Mix with seltzer for a tasty soda.
  4. Strawberry Rhubarb Shrub, $20 for 16 ounces at The Hudson Standard: If you love strawberry-rhubarb pie, you should work this tangy shrub into your rotation this spring. Mix it with sparkling water for an alternative to sugary soda, or add it to vinaigrettes and dessert sauces.
  5. Michigan Apple Pie Drinking Vinegar, $17 for 16 ounces at McClary Bros.: What better way to balance apple cider vinegar than with actual apples? This shrub does that, and a little more, since it features warming spices for a true apple pie flavor. Mix one part shrub with four parts sparkling water and garnish with a lemon wedge. Or use it to braise pork chops or pump up the flavor in a homemade pie.
  6. Crangerine Shrub, $13 for 12 ounces at Spiker’s Shrubs: This no-nonsense shrub features the sunny, sweet taste of tangerines with super-tart cranberries for a zippy punch. Mix it with a ginger shrub, a squeeze of lime, and seltzer for a festive alcohol-free spritzer. Another idea: Drizzle it over ice cream.

Make Your Own