Project Body Smart | Cranberry Shrub Cocktails


Cranberry Shrub Cocktails

Fresh cranberries are so full of wonderful tart flavor and health-boosting nutrients it seems a shame to serve them only in relish form to go with a holiday turkey. Another way to take advantage of them while supplies are plentiful is to turn them into a shrub: a tangy base for a drink that pairs fruit with vinegar and some kind of sweetener.

Drinking vinegars date back to pre-refrigeration days when fruits had to be preserved by natural methods. More recently, they’ve come back into vogue — in bars and in bottled form — as a healthful and satisfying grown-up drink, with or without the booze.

With its crimson hue and cool-weather flavors, this one is sure to brighten up the beverage table at any gathering this holiday season. From Susan Puckett, an Atlanta-based food writer and cookbook author. Makes about 2 cups shrub, about 16 drinks


  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 8-10 allspice berries, crushed
  • Juice and strips of peeled zest from 1 orange
  • 2/3 cup cider vinegar (preferably organic
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup


  • Sparkling water, sparkling wine, sparking cider, bourbon, or other spirit
  • Orange slices, rosemary sprigs, and/or reserved cranberries for garnish

Make the shrub:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, water, crushed allspice berries, and orange juice and peel.
  2. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook until the berries soften and burst, 7-8 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar and syrup. Set aside some of the intact berries for garnish.
  4. Pour the remaining mixture into a mesh strainer set over a medium bowl and press the solids with a spoon to extract as much juice as you can without getting solids into the shrub.
  5. Transfer the strained liquid to a bottle or jar, cover, and refrigerate for a month or longer, until ready to use.

To make cocktails:

  1. Fill a cocktail glass with ice and pour ¼ to ½ cup of the shrub over the ice. Top off with sparkling water or sparking water for sparkling cider for a non-alcoholic cocktail or use the shrub as the base for a spirited cocktail.
  2. Stir it well and garnish with an orange slice and, if desired, a sprig of rosemary and/or a few reserved cranberries.

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