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Cranberry Shrub Cocktail. Photo from: Jeffery Cross, Sunset Magazine

Cranberry juice and booze. Not my favorite combination in the universe. I think I ordered a cosmo once when I was 21. I have a friend who uttered the phrase, “I’ll have a vodka cran” for the span of about 3 years. She sticks with vodka sodas now. Let’s face it: The days of Cosmos and Sex and the City are looong gone.

waiting for the cranberries to burst!

Fast forward to the November 2012 issue of Sunset magazine – a recipe for a Cranberry Shrub, a “curiously refreshing fruity vinegar syrup, originally used to preserve in-season fruit.” I was immediately intrigued. There were so many different suggestions for what to mix with the shrub syrup, and hello, Thanksgiving is upon us. I had to try it. Cranberry and booze, welcome back to my life. This easy recipe makes a world of a difference from scary store bought cranberry juice cocktail.
Cranberry Shrub
Makes about 3 1/2 cups
  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice


  1. Bring all ingredients to a simmer with 2 cups water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to low and cook 5 minutes until most cranberries have burst.
  2. Spoon out a few whole cranberries and set aside for garnishing drinks if you like.*
  3. Strain mixture, pressing liquid out of pulp using the back of a spoon. Discard pulp. Chill at least 1 hour. Store for up to 3 months.
  4. *Roll the berries in sugar, skewer on toothpicks, and set across tops of drinks. Use that day.

Ways to Shake up a Shrub!

  • Pour over ice and top with club soda…and vodka if you’re feeling frisky.
  • Make a Shrub mimosa with Champagne.
  • Muddle with an orange slice and ice. Add bourbon and top with club soda.
  • Fill a tall glass with ice, layer in a splash of shrub, then add equal parts orange juice and tequila…If you are me, add vodka.
  • Shake with ice and equal parts shrub, gin and sweet vermouth. Strain into a glass.