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  • Megan

cranberry orange shrub cocktail

Updated: Jun 12

Why not make your holiday gatherings extra festive with these cranberry orange shrub cocktails?

First things first: What is a shrub?

A shrub is a syrup made of fruit, sugar, and vinegar (of the more palatable variety, like apple cider vinegar). It's been around for centuries as a method of preserving fruit. You can combine it with sparkling water or club soda for a refreshing NA beverage, or mix it with booze for a fun cocktail.

While shrubs can be made by letting fruit break down in sugar at room temperature or in the refrigerator over a couple of days, the hot process is much faster. This cranberry orange shrub comes together on the stove, where the cranberries pop and break down into a thin syrup. Strain out the spent fruit, combine the syrup with apple cider vinegar, and store your shrub in the fridge til you’re ready to make a drink.

At cocktail time, throw down ice, gin, and that pleasantly tart shrub. Top everything off with your choice of bubbly and a few sugared cranberries.

cranberry orange shrub cocktail


8oz cranberries, plus extra for garnishing

1 cup sugar (divided)

Five thin orange slices, plus some zest and peel for garnish

3/4 cup water (divided)

1/2 cup quality apple cider vinegar

Ice cubes


Prosecco, Champagne, or other sparkling wine of your choice (sparkling water is good too)


1. Combine the cranberries, 1/2 cup sugar, orange slices, and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and then continue to cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until the cranberries have burst and are floating in a bubbling liquid.

2. Pour the fruit through a fine mesh strainer to separate the berries and syrup. Use a spoon to press all the liquid from the pulp. (Don’t let the fruit pulp go to waste! I processed mine with a little extra water to make a cranberry orange compote. I think it’d be good over cheesecake, cinnamon rolls, bagel and cream cheese, etc.)

3. Pour the syrup into a glass jar along with the vinegar. Seal and shake to combine. Store the shrub in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use.

Sugared Cranberries (for garnish)

1. Stir together 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup starts to simmer.

2. Take the simple syrup off the heat and add however many cranberries you want. Stir to coat the cranberries, then lift them out of the syrup with a slotted spoon or spatula. Set them on a parchment-lined pan to cool and dry for an hour.

3. Grate some orange zest into 1/4 cup sugar and use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar. Once the cranberries are dry and sticky, toss them in the sugar.

4. Store any unused simple syrup and citrus sugar in sealed containers in the refrigerator so you can make a fresh batch of sugared cranberries when you need it. If you have unused sugared cranberries, store them in the fridge on parchment paper.


1. Fill a lowball glass halfway with ice. Add 1 ounce gin and 2 ounces shrub. 

2. Top off the glass with sparkling wine (for a lower-proof cocktail, this could be sparkling water).

3. Garnish with sugared cranberries and orange peel.


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