Cranberry Vanilla Shrub

When incorporating seasonal flavors into a cocktail, few things are as effective as a shrub – or at least shrubs are not used as frequently as seasonal infusions and bitters. Shrubs (also known as drinking vinegars) were originally a way to preserve and enjoy the flavors of seasonal fruit throughout the year. The basic ingredients required to make a shrub are fruit, vinegar, and sugar. Unlike their cousin, switchel, shrubs are meant to be incorporated into a drink whereas switchel is ready to drink as is and doesn’t always include fruit. 

When making a shrub there is plenty of room for modifying recipes to suit your preferences. The main thing is to have a grasp on how the flavors will combine, and this begins with understanding the effect of the type of vinegar you choose. Apple cider, white, and balsamic will be the primary choices for vinegar suitable for the shrub. What I particularly appreciate about a shrub is opportunity it provides as a unique ingredient suitable for cocktails as well as non-alcoholic drinks. Just add club soda or some LaCroix and your tea-totaling relative will have a craft drink just like everyone else.


Cranberry Vanilla Shrub
Recipe Type: Cocktail
Serves: 350 ml
  • 2 cups (140g) cranberries
  • 1½ cups water
  • ⅛ cup brown sugar
  • ⅛ cup white sugar
  • 3 ounces apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ounce balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • vanilla bean
  1. Combine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until the cranberries pop.
  2. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Allow mixture to cool and process in batches in food processor.
  4. Strain through cheesecloth then mesh strainer.
  5. Bottle and store.
Notes: This recipe adapted from Colonial Spirits: A Toast To Our Drunken History.

Cran Van Cocktail
Recipe Type: Cocktail
Serves: 1
  • 1¾ ounce Rittenhouse Rye
  • ½ ounce cranberry vanilla shrub
  • ½ ounce honey syrup
  • ¼ ounce lemon
  • 2 drops saline solution (or pinch of salt)
  • 2 dashes Bitter Truth orange bitters
  1. Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Shake until chilled and strain into a coupe glass.

Cranberry Vanilla Mocktail
Recipe Type: Mocktail
Serves: 1
  • 2 ounces cranberry vanilla shrub
  • 1 dash Bitter Truth orange bitters
  • LaCroix Lime
  1. Add cranberry vanilla shrub and bitters to a tall glass filled with ice.
  2. Add LaCroix and stir lightly to combine.

Additional Resources:

Colonial Spirits
Grade A Madagascar Vanilla Beans
Grade A Tahitian Vanilla Beans
Huffington Post: A Guide to Where Your Vinegar Comes from and How to Use It
Imbibe: Homemade Drinking Vinegars
Alcademics: The Difference Between a Shrub and a Switchel
The Kitchn: Ginger Switchel Recipe

Leave a Reply