Oops, I drank a shrub (and it was good). Then I put vodka in it (and it was better).

No, not the bush, ya’ll. This is not that kind of blog.

In drink terms, a shrub is a concentrated syrup that combines fruit, spices, sugar and vinegar for interesting flavor combinations. The result is a sweet, acidic mixer that can be used in a variety of mixed drinks (or on its own!). These are often topped with water, sparkling water, or things like ginger ale or clear soda, in a 1oz shrub to 5-6 oz liquid ratio. The liquors I like best with mixers that are acidic like this are vodka and gin, because they don’t overpower and can complement the other flavors.

Shrubs are sometimes referred to as “drinking vinegars” because of the liberal use of mostly apple cider vinegar as a base. Us diabetics know the positive properties of apple cider vinegar relative to managing blood sugar (I won’t generalize because I know it’s different for everyone) but I just wanted to point out that shrubs are basically good for diabetics. You’re welcome.

We pay a lot for things like this mixed into beverages at cocktail bars. The beauty of making this yourself is you can make an excellent sugar free version. This is a good skill set to get the hang of yourself, so you can make high end cocktails and impress your friends (at least, the ones who have discerning taste and don’t drink Pabst).

I decided to try a raspberry apple basil shrub. Even if you don’t like alcohol, you should make this because it made my house smell like I know how to cook, which I do not.


(I’ll share the combination I used, but you can do this using a similar ratio with whatever ingredients you prefer – just always in a 2-2-2 ratio)


  • 2 cups fruit (I used 1.5 cups raspberries & 1/2 cup apples)
  • 2 cups vinegar (you can use apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, or whatever flavor you prefer)
  • 2 cups sugar (I modified this to Stevia in a 1:1 ratio, and tbh that was WAY too sweet for me, so I’ll prob make it 1.5 cups next time)
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh or cured herbs (I used fresh basil and ended up doubling the recommended 1 tbsp to get the flavor to come through)


  • Heat equal parts Stevia and apple cider vinegar on the stove at a medium to light heat, stirring until all of the Stevia crystals have dissolved into the vinegar.
  • Add fruit and spices and simmer for ~10 mins, stirring occasionally to ensure the juices are released into the mixture.
  • Cool the mixture.
  • Strain out solids through a fine strainer (I actually used a gold coffee strainer, but cheesecloth works great, or something similar).
  • Bottle into a clean glass jar and allow to rest in the refrigerator for 2-4 days.
  • Add more Stevia or vinegar to taste, as appropriate.



  • 1.5 oz Raspberry Apple Basil shrub (directions above)
  • 2 oz vodka
  • ¾ cup sparkling water (or however much it takes to fill your glass)


  • Pour shrub into bottom of medium size glass.
  • Add ice.
  • Add vodka, then fill rest of glass with sparkling water.
  • Garnish with basil or other fresh herbs.
  • Sweeten to taste if needed. Stir well, and enjoy.

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