By Jackie Dishner
IF YOU ENJOY balsamic, apple cider or red
wine vinegar as part of a salad dressing, you
may love it even more as part of a holiday
cocktail. That’s the latest trend at local gastro-
pubs, high-end hotels and boutique bars. Part
of the growing craft cocktail movement, these
beverages are called “shrubs.”
Mixologists, herbalists and bar consul-
tants as far away as Moscow are talking up
shrubs’ history, nostalgia and authenticity,
reminding fans that the shrub cocktail is any-
thing but new. Vinegar, the main ingredient,
has long been used for drinking. According
to Michael Dietsch in the first book on the
subject, Shrubs: An Old-Fashioned Drink for
Modern Times (The Countryman Press,
2014; not available at Costco), vinegar, in
ancient times, would have been used to steril-
ize dirty water to make it drinkable. In
American Colonial times, he writes, people
mixed vinegar, fruit and sugar to create a
And that is the basis of what is known as a
shrub today: an infusion of vinegar, fruit (or
an herb or vegetable) and sugar.
“It’s essentially like pickling,” says Costco
member Tony Tuttle, in-house mixologist for
Ignite Creative Services, a beverage marketing
firm in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Tuttle explains: “Historically, vinegar
would have been used to preserve pitted cher-
ries after harvest. The concoction then may
have been used as a vitamin C supplement in
the winter or added to whiskey to prevent
scurvy. Now, we make punches with the fer-
Herbalist Katheryn Langelier, owner of
Herbal Revolutions in Maine, sells hand-
crafted shrubs. Instead of sugar, however, she
uses raw honey and sells concentrated drink-
ing vinegars in three flavors: rose, blueberry
and white pine. The white pine is her favorite.
“I sip it alone in a little glass with ice. It’s
The Costco Connection
Costco warehouses carry vinegars, fresh
and frozen fruits, sugar, soda, tea and more
for creating your own shrub beverage.
Spirits are available at select locations.
Craft cocktails for the holidays
very refreshing,” she says. “It also goes well with
rosemary and lemon for a lemon martini.”
Nic Christiansen, a mixologist at both
Bourbon Raw in Louisville, Kentucky, and
Exchange Pub and Kitchen across the Ohio
River in New Albany, Indiana, likes to make
them with blood oranges for the bold color or
pears for the light and refreshing flavor. Both
go well with bourbon, Christiansen says, but a
pear-based shrub is particularly kind to new
“Shrubs also blend well with tea,” says
Tuttle. “All you need is a quarter ounce.” C
Jackie Dishner is a freelance writer and book
author ( shewrites.com).
Cranberry & Sage Shrub
1 pound cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 fresh sage leaves
Place the cranberries on a parchment-lined
baking sheet and bake them for about 20 minutes at 350 F. If you listen carefully you can
hear them popping in the oven.
Transfer the roasted cranberries to a quart-size
Add the sugar and cover and seal the mason
jar. Shake it so that all of the cranberries are
covered with sugar. Let stand in a dark,
cool place for 5 hours; the sugar and cranberries will form a syrup.
Add 1 cup of apple cider vinegar to the cranberries. Cover and shake the mixture, trying
to dissolve as much of the remaining sugar
Add the fresh sage leaves and stir, so they are
soaking in the vinegar. Let the cranberry mixture stand for 24 hours in a dark, cool place,
Strain the mixture through a sieve and store in
a clean mason jar. Makes 8 servings.
Shrubs can be served in a variety of ways.
You can drink them straight or even use them
in cocktails. I serve this shrub with some club
soda. Add 2 ounces of cranberry and sage
shrub syrup to a single old-fashioned glass
filled with ice cubes, and top off with club soda.
Garnish with fresh cranberries.
Recipe courtesy of Jerry James Stone;