A “shrub” is a vinegary fruit syrup, made from roughly equal amounts of fruits, vinegar, and sugar. Mixed with soda they offer a complex and (usually) non-alcoholic alternative to bottled pop, or can be used as a mixer in more adult beverages. The basic formula is crazy simple and the variants are endless.
Spiced Cranberry Shrub is an excellent way to use the plentiful and inexpensive cranberries that show up in stores in the fall. It takes a little bit of patience but the end result is potent and breathtaking. I’ve leaned into the tartness and recommend you do the same, but everyone’s taste buds are a little bit different. If you want to add a little bit more sugar I won’t tell anyone.
- Pour fresh cranberries into a mason jar. Add spices, cider vinegar, and sugar and shake well until sugar is dissolved. Since cranberries float, add additional vinegar if needed to top off the jar. Seal the jar tightly and store in a cool, dark place for 1-2 days.
- After steeping for a day or two, put the mixture in a blender and pulse a couple of times to break up the cranberries. They don't need to be pulverized, but you want to break their skin. Return them to the mason jar, seal, and store in a cool, dark place for 1-2 days.
- Filter the mixture through a fine mesh sieve, using a coffee filter if desired. Smash the pulp against the sieve to extract all the juices, and allow the mixture to sit for 30-40 minutes to extract all possible liquid. Store in a glass container and refrigerate for up to a month.
- Mix 2 oz shrub with 8 oz soda or tonic water and serve over ice for a potent, tart drink.
Mix 2 oz shrub with 8 oz soda or tonic water and serve over ice.
See also my recipe for Spiced California Cup Mocktail