What is a shrub? Old English shrub recipe to relive travel memories

by Aug 18, 2020Recipes

Cranberry Shrub Recipe Cover

A shrub is a flexible, creative infusion of fruit, herbs, or vegetables mixed with sugar and vinegar to be added to alcohol or soda water. Our cranberry shrub recipe is delicious. This is a perfect drink recipe for history and travel buffs.

I can’t say I have stumbled across “shrubs” on any of our travels in England. But when I first saw a shrub recipe, I had to wonder, as you might, what is a shrub?

A shrub is a slightly mulled infusion of your choice of fruit, vegetables, or herbs with sugar and vinegar. Not too sweet and a bit of a subtle pucker from the vinegar, just the sweet-tart I love to add to all sorts of drinks. It’s a taste I guarantee you will love as well once you learn how to make a shrub.

Its origins per historical websites date back to 16th and 17th century England where vinegar was used to preserve fruit. American colonists decided the concept of a mulled fruit infusion was a great one for making refreshing drinks in this new, often hot and humid American climate. Once refrigeration became widespread, it wasn’t necessary to preserve fruit with vinegar, so the wonderful concept of shrubs fell out of style.

The name “shrub” allegedly stems per the Oxford Dictionary from the early 18th century Arabic word of “šariba,” meaning “to drink.”

How to make a shrub to relive travel memories

Leave it to today’s mixologists to reinvigorate the idea – and cooks globally to take them a step further. How to make a shrub? I have tried shrubs with cantaloupe, watermelon, cranberries, lemon, and lime, with either regular vinegar or apple cider vinegar, or with a blend. I have sometimes added a few herbs in the infusion, sometimes not. This old English shrub is a marvelous way to use up aging fruit while you are reliving memories of travel around the world.

Back in old English days, it was most popular to mix the syrup that resulted from the mulled infusion with seltzer or regular water for a refreshing soft drink. You could even make a warm drink with a shrub. But keep an open mind: If a shrub is good enough to be soft, why not make it hard too?

The best way to make a shrub

First things first is making your shrub: I’ll offer a solid recipe for one style I have liked, but then you get to be creative with others. The amount of sugar you add will often depend on the sweetness of the fruit, while the type or quantity of vinegar you add may be influenced simply by your own love of pucker power, or not. To start, think mostly 1:1 for sugar and vinegar but start slowly with each and see what you think, taking little tastes even prior to the short mull period.


Our award-winning photos make a perfect gift – to yourself, a friend, or a family member. Prints for a wall, on a desk, as greeting cards, cozy fleece blankets, ornaments, fridge magnets, coffee mugs, luggage tags, coasters, mouse pads and puzzles. Subscriber Club members get 25% off any order

Be forewarned to start: I’m a big “to taste” gal when it comes to cooking and creating so both the shrub – and my favorite drink made with it – have a big dollop of “to taste.”

I will admit that so far I adore my cranberry shrub the best of all I’ve made. In fact, when I add it to a drink, I invariably do a little happy dance after my first sip.

Summer Drink Cranberry Shrub Whiskey Cooler

A whiskey cooler made with a cranberry shrub. I’ll show you how to make this drink in the recipe below.

Get ready for your shrub happy dance

You will find a lot of complicated recipes, but shrubs like simplicity. Enjoy my cranberry shrub recipe and a bonus whiskey cooler recipe with the cranberry shrub you’ll be making too.


Get the "Old English cranberry shrub" recipe for free

Old English Cranberry Shrub Recipe

Premium Subscriber Club members can read our  Old English shrub recipe for free. 

Not a member of our Subscriber Club yet? No problem! Click on the link above to start your subscription and you’ll begin receiving premium stories, photography and tips that do not appear on our website. And you’ll become part of a fun travel community. Once you are a newsletter subscriber, simply click on any content for paid subscribers and you will be invited to activate a 7-day trial account granting you full access to our free travel book, archived premium content, and amazing recipe library. Simply cancel within 7 days and you will owe us nothing ... no strings attached. As an additional thank you, once you have set up your 7-day trial account, send us an email with "I'd like my Old English shrub recipe ebook please" and once we've verified your account, we'll send you that ebook for FREE. No strings attached.

You might also be interested in reading:


As an affiliate for Get Your Guide, Amazon.com, iVisa, Global Rescue, Think Tank, 5.11, Kuhl, Adorama, and others, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you should you choose to purchase through the links in our posts. It is essential to mention that we only endorse products we believe in and personally use. Your support for HI Travel Tales through these purchases allows us to maintain a sustainable platform for creating valuable and relevant content for you. 


Are you protected IF a travel emergency happens?

Global Rescue Travel Insurance Rescue Banner