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The Mighty Shrub

Shrubs got a Vote of Confidence from the Voraciously column by Jennifer Farley in this week's Washington Post : "A shrub is a drink that should get some love from you." Yes, Jennifer Farley, we agree! And we'll back atcha for your lovely recipe for a strawberry mint shrub. (Of course our version would have only Old Sourpuss Red, White, and Strawberry vinegars in it.) Here's Jennifer's recipe:

Strawberry Basil Mint Shrub Cocktail

(Makes enough shrub syrup for 16-24 servings.)

HANDS-ON TIME: 10 minutes

COOK TIME: 10 minutes, plus 24 hours' infusion

EQUIPMENT: Dry and liquid measuring cups, medium bowl, medium saucepan, spatula, fine-mesh strainer, cheesecloth, cocktail shaker, spoon


For the shrub

2 cups strawberries (14 ounces), rinsed, hulled and sliced

1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves

1 cup apple cider vinegar (or Old Sourpuss strawberry vinegar)

3/4 cup white wine vinegar (Old Sourpuss white wine vinegar)

1/4 cup red balsamic vinegar (or Old Sourpuss red wine vinegar)

2 cups sugar

For the drink

Ice cubes

1 ounce good gin, such as Bombay Sapphire

1 to 1 1/2 ounces strawberry basil mind shrub syrup

4 ounce club soda

Strawberry slices, for garnish

Fresh mint leaves, for garnish


For the shrub: Combine the strawberries, basil and mint in a medium bowl (you could also use a large jar with a lid).

Combine the three vinegars in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the liquid starts to bubble at the edges, remove from the heat. Pour over the strawberry mixture so it is completely covered. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. 

Line a fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth (to catch smallest particles) and set it over a medium saucepan. Strain the strawberry-vinegar mixture, discarding the solids. 

Add the sugar to the saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Let cool. The yield is about 3 cups.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 months (possibly longer, but the flavor may decline over time). 

For the drink: Fill a rocks glass halfway with ice cubes, and fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. 

Add the gin and the shrub (to taste) to the cocktail shaker. Seal and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain into the glass, and then top with the club soda. Stir, then add garnishes, if using, and serve.

NOTE: This recipe can be simplified to use all apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar. Don’t use all balsamic vinegar, which will drown out the delicate flavor of the herbs. Using a mix of the three vinegars here creates a nice balance of smoothness, fruitiness and acidity. If serving several drinks at once, you can scale up the amount of shrub and gin in the cocktail shaker. 

VARIATIONS: Try using all mint or basil instead of both if you want one flavor to be more pronounced. You can also swap out the strawberries for blueberries or blackberries. A good quality tequila blanco, such as Casa Noble, would work in this cocktail in place of the gin.

Jennifer Farley author of Savory Simple blog

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