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A cranberry orange shrub is one of the most refreshing drinks of all time. It can be made in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic (mocktail) versions. The sweet-tart flavor of cranberries pairs so nicely with the similarly sweet-tart flavor of oranges, and sparkling wine or sparkling cider adds the fizz. It’s absolutely the perfect drink for the holidays, which, of course, is when cranberries are in season.

Frozen cranberries make this drink look absolutely spectacular, and also keep the drink chilled without diluting it, as ice cubes would. If you are looking for a nice little appetizer to serve with your cranberry shrub, try Puff Pastry Cheese Straws with Bacon or Salmon Spread on baguette slices.

Cranberry Orange Shrub in a brandy glass on a wooden table.

Cranberry Orange Shrub: This slightly sweet, slightly tart fruity drink can be made as a mocktail or a cocktail, and is perfect for holiday gatherings.

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What Is a Shrub?

Basically, a drink is a shrub if it is based on a mixture of fruits, sugar, aromatics, and vinegar. Other liquids are then added to turn the concentrate into a drink.

Shrubs were originally used in Colonial times as a means of preserving fruit before there was refrigeration. Usually, the mixture was then used to create beverages. According to Difford’s Guide, the word “sharaba” is Arabic for to drink, and this technique was probably started in the Middle East.

Shrubs were technically alcoholic in the olden days, but now the word has kind of come to mean a vinegar and sugar-based fruit drink. They can be supplemented by all kinds of additional liquids, from water to sparkling cider to sparkling wine to regular wine to all manners of alcohol.

Cranberry Orange Shrub in a small pitcher with a large pitcher with cranberries and some oranges and mint nearby.

FAQs

What does a shrub taste like?

Tart and tangy from the vinegar, with a bit of sweetness from the sugar. How sweet or tart the fruit is will affect the shrub’s taste, as will the amount of sugar you add. The flavor may be diluted or softened by the addition of sparkling water or juice. The strength of the drink will also be affected by how strong the base concentrate is and how long you let it simmer or sit.

Are shrubs alcoholic?

They can be made with or without alcohol. In this shrub recipe, if you use sparkling apple cider, you will have a sweeter, non-alcoholic shrub. If you use sparkling wine, you will have a tarter, alcoholic drink. Both are delicious.

What type of glass should you use for serving shrubs?

I used brandy glasses, or “snifters,” to serve the shrub. But it would look lovely in a variety of glasses, from highball glasses to champagne flutes or coupes to wine glasses. Your call.

Cranberry Orange Shrub Mocktail

What I do love about this drink is how well it worked as a cocktail and a mocktail. This is always handy, especially if you have kids or are having a party where you want to offer those two options.

I would recommend dividing the shrub mixture between two pitchers. Then, add cider to one pitcher and sparkling wine to the other. Label them so people will know which is which. You can also add some sparkling water to either version if you want a lighter drink.

Sparking wine being poured into a pitcher with cranberries in it.

Ingredients

  • Cranberries – Some of the cranberries will be cooked in water with other ingredients. Others will be frozen to act as little cranberry ice cubes to keep the drink cold and make it pretty.
  • Sugar – To offset the tartness of the cranberries and vinegar
  • Orange – Strips of orange zest are cooked with the cranberries for flavoring, and orange juice is added to the drink itself.
  • Cider vinegar – An essential ingredient in shrubs, provides tartness.
  • Pomegranate molasses – You can substitute honey, agave, or plain molasses instead.
  • Campari – For a hint of bitter flavor and also to deepen the beautiful red color of the drink (leave it out for a mocktail).
  • Sparkling wine or sparkling cider – Adds the fizziness to the drink. You can also divide the shrub base into two pitchers and make one with alcohol and one without.
Cranberry shrub being poured into a pitcher with sparkling wine and cranberries in it.

How to Make Cranberry Orange Shrub

  1. Freeze 2 cups cranberries.
  2. Make the shrub base: Place the water, the rest of the cranberries, sugar, and orange zest in a saucepan. Simmer until the cranberries have burst, about 7 minutes.
  3. Chill: Stir in the vinegar and molasses and refrigerate, preferably for 24 hours.
  4. Strain: Strain out the cranberries and orange zest, pressing the solids in a strainer with a spoon to extract all of the liquid.
  5. Finish the shrub: Place the frozen cranberries into a large pitcher. Transfer the chilled cranberry liquid to the pitcher and add the orange juice and Campari. Pour in the sparkling beverage of your choice and serve chilled.

Happy shrubbing, everyone. (It’s now a verb.)

Cranberry Orange Shrub being poured into a glass.

Pro Tips

  • Remember to freeze 2 cups of cranberries ahead of time.
  • Make sure to allow enough time for the base of the shrub to chill.
  • You might garnish the glasses with a wedge or wheel of fresh orange or add a sprig of fresh rosemary to each glass.
  • Leave out the Campari if you are making a shrub mocktail. And if you are making both mocktails and cocktails, serve them in different types of glasses so they don’t get mixed up.
Cranberry shrub in a brandy glass.

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Cranberry Orange Shrub

5 from 4 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 day
Total: 1 day 25 minutes
Servings: 12 People
This slightly sweet, slightly tart fruity drink can be made as a mocktail or a cocktail, and is perfect for holiday gatherings.

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups cranberries
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • Strips of peeled zest from one orange
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1 ounce Campari (2 tablespoons)
  • 2 bottles sparkling wine or sparkling cider
  • 2 cups frozen cranberries

Instructions 

  • Place the water, cranberries, sugar, and orange zest in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and maintain a simmer until the cranberries have burst, about 7 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar and molasses. Refrigerate overnight, preferably for 24 hours. Strain out the cranberries and orange zest, pressing the solids in a strainer with a spoon to extract all of the liquid.
  • Place the frozen cranberries into a large pitcher. Transfer the chilled cranberry liquid to the pitcher and add the orange juice and Campari. Pour in the sparkling beverage of your choice and serve chilled.

Notes

  • Remember to freeze 2 cups of cranberries ahead of time.
  • Make sure to allow enough time for the base of the shrub to chill.
  • You might garnish the glasses with a wedge or wheel of fresh orange, or add a sprig of fresh rosemary to each glass.
  • Leave out the Campari if you are making a shrub mocktail. And if you are making both mocktails and cocktails, think about serving them in different types of glasses so they don’t get mixed up.

Nutrition

Calories: 148kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 4mg, Potassium: 41mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 31g, Vitamin A: 23IU, Vitamin C: 20mg, Calcium: 6mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Comments

  1. Gorgeous looking mocktail! It sounds so delicious too. Can’t wait to try these, everyone will love them.

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