Grapefruit & Rosemary Shrub

Grapefruit & rosemary shrub

–½ cup granulated sugar

Peel from one medium organic grapefruit.

Grapefruit segments

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 cup apple cider vinegar (raw)

Grapefruit & Rosemary Mocktail

1 oz grapefruit shrub

3–4 oz carbonated water

5–15 drops aromatic bitters

The word shrub doesn’t elicit thoughts of a flavourful, thirst-quenching drink. Yet, that’s exactly what it is.

Originating from England, a shrub was created as a means to preserve fruit in vinegar. At some point in time, sugar was added to the vinegar and the resulting syrup was used as a base for drinks.

A sipping vinegar may seem unpalatable; but a shrub, with its tart undertones, is full of character and boasts a robust flavour profile of the fruit and herbs it contains.

The beauty of the shrub lies in its simplicity, and yet the flavour opportunities are endless. The ingredients are fruit, sugar and vinegar. A variety of fruits and herbs can be used, and better yet, a shrub is the perfect opportunity to use that bruised or aging fruit. The most commonly used vinegars are apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar, depending on your flavour profile.

The Grapefruit & Rosemary Shrub is a variation of the traditional shrub, which highlights the grapefruit’s bitter properties. A perfect summertime aperitif, this mocktail harnesses the benefits of bitters, while providing a refreshing, summer drink.

A shrub is traditionally one part vinegar, sugar and fruit. I find that this combination is too sweet, and I opted to reduce the sugar. To incorporate in the bitter properties of the grapefruit, I used both the rind, with a little of the white pith. I would recommend using an organic grapefruit, as the rind will be soaking in the vinegar.


Makes approximately 16 mocktails

Grapefruit & Rosemary Shrub

  1. Wash and peel the grapefruit, holding onto the peel segments. Keep the white pith that remains on the innards of the peel.
  2. Add the peel, 2 sprigs rosemary and the sugar to a sealable jar. Using a wooden spoon or cocktail muddler, crush the grapefruit peel and mix with the sugar. This will allow the oils from the grapefruit peel to soak into the sugar.
  3. Add the grapefruit segments and mix well, slightly crushing the fruit to release the juice.
  4. Add one cup of apple cider vinegar. Seal and shake.
  5. Let this mixture sit, sealed on your kitchen counter for about 2 days. “Burp” the mixture, by opening it, every day.
  6. Strain the mixture, and pour it into a jar.
  7. Refrigerate.

Grapefruit & Rosemary Mocktail

  1. Add 1 ounce of the grapefruit shrub to 3–4 ounces of carbonated water, with 5–15 drops of aromatic bitters.
  2. Serve with ice and a rosemary sprig.
  3. Enjoy!

*** Please note: if you are taking prescription medications, please check with your health care provider if there are drug interactions with grapefruit, before consuming this shrub. Grapefruit can affect a liver enzyme (CYP3A4) which metabolizes numerous medications, and can cause adverse effects.

***Those who should avoid aromatic bitters include pregnant women, and individuals with gallbladder disease, kidney stones, stomach ulcers or gastritis. Check with your primary health care provider if you have any concerns or are on medications.

Further ideas and modifications

  • You can try using honey as an alternative to sugar. I would suggest starting with –½ cup of honey, and increasing to taste.
  • The shrub should keep for at least a month in the fridge. If you use less sugar, then it may spoil faster. Check your shrub for signs of mould before using. 


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