Drinking Vinegars: The Other Kind of Shrub


One day last year, a mysterious courier arrived at my house.  (Okay, the courier was not so very mysterious.  She was driving plants to my local garden centers from Oregon-based Log House Plants.)  Anyway, she had a special delivery for me from Log House’s owner, Alice Doyle.

A crazy-cool old leather case filled with drinking vinegars. Otherwise known as shrubs.

I was to open the case, pour myself a drink, and call Alice.

But first I had to choose my shrub.

So drinking vinegars are basically homemade concoctions of vinegar, sugar, and some kind of plant matter.  As you can see here, Alice had been making drinking vinegars from everything:  basil, artichoke fennel, sour cherry–

Even kale.  You know I went for the kale!  So the idea is that you make yourself a shrub by pouring the drinking vinegar into a glass, perhaps with an ice cube, and topping with soda water.

Alice even sent glasses along. She wanted me to have a very particular kind of shrub experience.

I was also very fond of blueberry shrub.  And you know I could not resist the gold beet recipe:

Wow!  They were all quite extraordinary.  Imagine a fizzy, soda-like drink that is drier and so much more sophisticated than soda can ever be. Not as sour as you’d imagine a mouthful of vinegar to be, what with the sugar and botanical ingredients.

So–you know me.  I had to mix a drink with it.  I was not letting all that shrub go back to Oregon without first putting some vodka in it.

And shrubs have become quite hip in the cocktail culture these days, and you can make some interesting drinks with them.  But you know what?  A regular, non-alcoholic drinking vinegar and soda is actually a very fine thing.  Restorative, in fact.

Check out Alice Doyle’s drinking vinegar recipes on her website.

Also read a little more about shrubs from Imbibe.

And there’s a fine bit from a few years back at The Cocktail Chronicles.

And a whole chain of cocktail recipes and other shrub-related posts at Stirred, Not Shaken.

Shrubs!  Amazing! Wonderful!

Oh, and if you don’t want to bother making your own?  Austin-based Liber & Co makes a fine shrubBittermans is into it, too.


  1. My sweet wife used the leftover, vinegar-y based liquid from making fig jam and added soda water and other mysterious ingredients to make a sharp and sweet figgy-cola that had me checking the want ads for a bottling plant so that I could make my fortune. Will have to forward this post to her…..

  2. I couldn’t wait to try this so I rummaged through my vegetable drawer. The results were delicious! Thanks for the ideas. I made carrot/ginger and cucumber/dill.

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