When it comes to potions, I have always been a fan. In truth my mom rarely kept soda in the house, so substitutions were always a fun experiment. Alternatively we kept a collection of cordials to flavour our tonic or soda water. Now that I am living on my own, I have trouble finding a drink that will quench my thirst and sweet tooth without resorting back to the caffeinated sodas and sugary juices that are so tempting. With this is in mind I began to research a homemade alternative that would be as fun as it was delicious! For inspiration I researched beverages made before the mass production of juices and sodas that hydrated and nourished our hard-working predecessors.


This is how I came across the Shrub, an acidulated beverage popular in 17th and 18th century England that later gained popularity in early America. The Shrub can be a cocktail or soft drink, made by mixing a vinegared fruit syrup with carbonated water, and optional spirits. The syrup is an infusion of fruit juice, rinds, herbs, roots, and spices with the addition of apple cider vinegar. As a result it is referred to as a drinking vinegar.


The Shrub originated from the medicinal alcohol based cordials of 15th century Italy, which were infused with herbs, spices and other ingredients; it is also from this that we have liqueurs. These alcoholic medicinal cordials evolved into recreational drinking by the 18th century and the cocktail was born. An early recorded shrub can be found in The English and Australian Cookery Book written in 1864 calling for almonds, cloves, cassia, and the peel of oranges. The American version of the shrub added the use of vinegar as a preservative in the off season. This version would spread across the farms of America and hydrate our hard working predecessors.

Shrub Recipe
An excerpt from “The English and Australian Cookery Book”, 1864.


I picked this style of beverage because of its ability to be customized to whatever flavours and sweeteners you want to explore, along with whatever is in your fridge! They can be made quickly in large or small batches that last for up to 6 months in or outside of the fridge due to its vinegar content. Additionally, it is a great probiotic for gut health and acquiring whatever vitamins your chosen ingredients contain. Our strawberries are a great addition because of their high vitamin A content. Try out a few different combinations and share your potions with your friends!



Firstly, choose ingredients that you want to flavour your shrub. We tried two combinations:

  • Strawberries, beets, pineapple, turmeric, cinnamon sticks, and fresh rosemary
  • Cucumbers, grapefruit, ginger, ground cayenne and fresh tarragon
Recipe Ingredients
Fruits, Veggies, Roots & Herbs
  1. Secondly, wash and/or peel the vegetables, fruit, roots and herbs, and chop them into small chunks.
Chopped Ingredients
The Big Chop!
  1. Now fill your mason jar with your chopped ingredients.
  2. At this time add a ½ cup of spring or distilled water and a ½ cup of honey. (see cooking tips for advice on what sweetener to use).
Add Water to Shrub
1/2 Cup Distilled Water
Add Honey to Shrub
1/2 Cup of Honey
  1. Using a fork or muddler, mash up the contents of the jar to release the juices. It doesn’t need to be completely mashed, just broken up to add more flavour.
Muddle Shrub Contents
Mash it up!
  1. Add a lid to your mason jar and shake it for 30 seconds.
Shake the Shrub
Shake it up!
  1. Leave your jar in the fridge for 6-48 hours to steep.
Store in the fridge.
Chill time.
  1. After 6-48 hours, shake and strain out the solids from your mixture.
Shake up the Shrub
Another shake!
Strain Shrub
Strain out solids
  1. And lastly, measure the remaining liquid and add ½ of that total of apple cider vinegar so the ratio is 2:1 fruit juice to vinegar.
Add Apple Cider Vinegar
Add 1/2 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar

This is your completed shrub!

Finished Shrub
  1. Add a few tablespoons of your shrub to a glass and fill the rest with sparkling water or regular water.
Add 1-2 tbsp of Shrub to a glass
Add 1-2 tbsp of Shrub to a glass.
Add sparkling water
Top with sparkling water.

Enjoy! Your shrub is good in or outside of the fridge for 6-8 months.

Finished Shrub Drink
Sampling the shrub
“Oh, it’s actually good!” to my surprise


When choosing a sweetener for your shrub it should be noted to avoid granulated white sugar. Alternatively, a less refined honey, such as raw, organic or manuka, is a healthier replacement. Not only will processed sugar raise your glycemic index faster, it does not have the antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that honey varieties such as manuka honey have. Additionally, honey adds its own natural flavour to the shrub which I find more refreshing!