Cherry Vanilla Maple Shrub {Drinking Vinegar}

I stopped drinking soda and juice around a decade ago when the media was all like, “Soda is Satan! It makes people obese! Don’t drink soda or you’ll die!!!” Drinking a soda, even a healthier version of one (say Fentimen’s Rose Lemonade…) felt like the ultimate indulgence, like I may as well have been mainlining corn syrup-sweetened heroine right into my veins. I still enjoyed beer, wine, and cocktails, however, and after a while I realized that I was drinking alcohol when what I simply wanted was a tasty iced beverage to refresh on a warm day.

So I was thrilled to discover kombucha a few years ago, which despite being made from tea and sugar, was drunk by healthy people for healthy reasons. I began lugging bottles home from the grocery store, which would sometimes leak from the carbonated pressure, making a mess. Wanting to make my own, I inherited a scoby from a friend, which I promptly neglected and killed.

Then shrub came into my life via Carey’s lovely site Reclaiming Provincial. Shrubs are old-fashioned drinking vinegars made from fruit, sweetener, and vinegar. When made with raw cider vinegar, they provide some of the same good bacteria present in kombucha. Shrubs can be mixed with ice and fizzy water for a simple soda of sorts, not too sweet and flavored with whatever you like.

You can also add booze.

As a way to extend cherry season a bit further, I’ve been whipping up this simple shrub with sweet cherries, vanilla bean, and maple syrup. I add raw cider vinegar and a splash of balsamic. Mixed with ice and sparkling water, it tastes surprisingly like cherry-vanilla soda.

I’ve found that adding alcohol can sometimes give shrubs a medicinal edge, but rye whiskey was pretty perfect here. Highly recommended!

I’m looking forward to sharing (and drinking) more shrubby concoctions. In the meantime, I wish everyone a lovely summer filled with plenty of refreshing beverages, healthy and otherwise.

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Good Libations:

Lavendar Kumquat Shrub
One For the Money Cocktail {with Cocchi Americano, Saffron and Cardamom}
Grapefruit, Ginger and Lemongrass Sake Cocktails

One year ago:

Maple Sugar, Bourbon, and Brown Butter Peach Crisp

Two years ago:

Chocolate Bourbon Banana Cream Tart

Three years ago:

Cherry Frangipane Tart

Four years ago:

Zucchini Tomato Tart

Cherry Vanilla Maple Shrub {Drinking Vinegar}

Inspired by Carey’s Cherry Balsamic Shrub

Use grade A maple syrup here if you want a lighter flavor and brighter color (as pictured); grade B will have a deeper maple taste and the sodas will look a bit muddier, but they’ll still be super tasty. Give yourself 1-2 days to make this recipe as the mixture needs to infuse for at least 24 hours. To drink, mix 1 part shrub with about 4 parts soda water, top with ice, and add a splash of rye whiskey or bourbon if you like.

All ounce measurements here are by weight.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

2 cups (10 ounces / 280 grams) stemmed sweet cherries
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 cup (5.25 ounces / 150 grams) maple syrup
1/2 cup (4 ounces / 115 grams) apple cider vinegar (preferably raw, such as Bragg’s)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Place the cherries in a large jar or bowl (it’s fine to leave the pits in). Add the vanilla and maple syrup, and use a muddle stick (or other blunt object) to mash the cherries to a pulp. Stir in the vinegars. Cover and let the shrub sit for 24 to 48 hours. Strain the shrub, pressing on the solids to extract all the good stuff. Discard the pulp.

Pour the shrub into a jar or bottle and store in the refrigerator. It should keep for at least 1 month.

47 thoughts on “Cherry Vanilla Maple Shrub {Drinking Vinegar}”

  1. I am SO going to make this refreshing beverage very soon. Your wonderful photos help pushing this recipe to the top of my TO-MAKE list. Btw, I really don't think it would last a day at my house :)

    Always a wonderful post, Alanna :)

  2. So I am a little scarred by kombucha. I have had way too many friends assure me "it's delicious!" only to find myself drinking a fizzy vinegary monstrosity with a slight fruit flavor. Perhaps it is not for me. However. These pictures are SO gorgeous, and your description is SO enticing, that I might be persuaded to try a shrub this summer! Plus, the name. How could I not love it?!

    1. I feel you! I've tried some kombuchas that fit that description. Some are more flavorful/less sour than others. This shrub is especially not vinegary since it has a higher proportion of fruit and sweetener than most. I think you'd like it!

  3. After reading 'What Katy Did' where they took a bottle of shrub to drink at one of their picnics I have harboured all kinds of romantic ideas about it. This recipe is definitely one I will try so thank you.

  4. Whoa…. this sounds amazing. I am a huge fan of super tart kombucha (maybe because I tend to let my scoby chill in my batches too long?) and this ingredients list sounds like the culinary version of a Letters to Penthouse..

    ..which I really think we need, actually.

    That being said, I am ALL over this. Mmmmm.. mmmm.. MM!

    1. :) Going to try a strawberry, honey, and lavender balsamic version. It will take some experimenting to see what kind of booze complements those flavors…..

  5. What a great way to preserve the summer cherries! Much better than jars of jam that I for one will never eat. :) I haven't ever tried making shrub, so I'm looking forward to the experiment.

  6. just finished decanting. i used chocolate balsamic and it's great in seltzer. after the sun goes down, i'll add a shot of chocolate bourbon

    1. Wow! Lynn, I was totally thinking of the chocolate bourbon recipe you gave me last year when I made this. I was so close to putting cacao nibs in the shrub. Please let me know how it works with the shrub (is there any question??). Thank you for trying the recipe – I need to make yours ASAP!

    2. "is there any question??" just had a sip and yes, that is a rhetorical question:)

      re adding cocoa nibs to the shrub: i let the bourbon percolate for three weeks before straining, so i'm not sure how much flavor would be released in 24-48 hours. and i did try adding dried cherries to a batch of the chocolate bourbon, but couldn't discern any cherry flavor.

  7. Last year I canned Chinese 5 Spice cherries with molasses and vinegar. The canning liquid was so yummy and I was delighted to find that drinking it was actually a thing…. A shrub! Now I'm happy to find all these amazing recipes for this refreshing drink. Salud!

  8. Last year I canned Chinese 5 Spice cherries with molasses and vinegar. The canning liquid was so yummy and I was delighted to find that drinking it was actually a thing…. A shrub! Now I'm happy to find all these amazing recipes for this refreshing drink. Salud!

  9. Last year I canned Chinese 5 Spice cherries with molasses and vinegar. The canning liquid was so yummy and I was delighted to find that drinking it was actually a thing…. A shrub! Now I'm happy to find all these amazing recipes for this refreshing drink. Salud!

  10. Last year I canned Chinese 5 Spice cherries with molasses and vinegar. The canning liquid was so yummy and I was delighted to find that drinking it was actually a thing…. A shrub! Now I'm happy to find all these amazing recipes for this refreshing drink. Salud!

  11. Last year I canned Chinese 5 Spice cherries with molasses and vinegar. The canning liquid was so yummy and I was delighted to find that drinking it was actually a thing…. A shrub! Now I'm happy to find all these amazing recipes for this refreshing drink. Salud!

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