Fruit shrubs originated in 17th century England as a way of preserving berries for the winter season. Another name for this refreshing summer beverage is “drinking vinegar,” which may not sound too appealing for some who do not like vinegar. In fact, the original recipe used 1:1:1 ratio of fruit, sugar, and vinegar, but it was too intense even for me, so after a couple of test runs, I reduced the vinegar amount to only ½ cup. Berry summer shrub tastes a little like kombucha but is not fermented. It is a healthy and delicious alternative to soda drinks. 


10 oz assorted berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) cut into chunks

1 cup granulated sugar 

½ cup vinegar (white or apple cider, balsamic, or any artisanal vinegar) 

Club soda or mineral water

Ice cubes 


You can substitute sugar for honey or experiment by adding citrus peels and spices, such as cardamom, fresh ginger, or star anise. There are even tomato shrubs or cranberry shrubs. 

Delicious Muscovado Sugar 

Muscovado is my favorite type of sugar for this kind of recipe because it has a smoked molasses flavor, but any type of sugar will do.   

package of muscovado sugar
berries and sugar in a jar together

In a larger jar, combine the berries and sugar. (For this recipe, I used mainly frozen mulberries from this year’s plentiful harvest). 

berries and sugar mashed together in an open  jar

Muddle the berries with sugar using a fork or a muddler. 

mashed berries and sugar ini a sealed jar

Close the jar and let it sit at room temperature for one to two days. 

straining seeds from juice

After one day, strain the drink to separate the juice from the seeds and fruit skin. Depending on the fruit you use, you will have about half to 2/3 of the original volume left. Add vinegar and refrigerate. With time, the flavors should mellow and become fruitier. 

juice, iced drink and a bottle of mineral water sitting on a counter

Server over ice with mineral water or club soda. Garnish with mint or basil leaves for an extra punch of flavor. The shrub concentrate can be used in other alcoholic cocktails of your choice. 

The shrub will keep for several months in the refrigerator. 


book cover - edible cocktails

Edible cocktails by Natalie Bovis-Nelsen

Book Call Number: 641.874 BOVIS

book cover zero proof cocktails

Zero proof cocktails : 90 non-alcoholic recipes for mindful drinking by ElvaRamirez and Robert Bredvad

Book Call Number: 641.875 RAMIREZ

book cover infused water

Infused water : 75 simple and delicious recipes to keep you and your family healthy and happy by Dalila Tarhuni

Book Call Number: 641.875 TARHUNI

Magda Born

Community Services Librarian

Kansas City, Kansas Public Library

625 Minnesota Ave.

Kansas City, KS 66101

913-295-8250 ext 1103