Alibi V.27 No.12 • March 22-28, 2018 

Try This at Home

Meyer Lemon Shrub Recipe

Shrubs are easy to make and tasty to drink

Mixing shrub syrup with fizzy water makes a great summer drink
Mixing shrub syrup with fizzy water makes a great summer drink
Alejandro Arballo

If you haven’t started drinking shrubs yet, where have you been, homie? These sweet and tart probiotic fruit drinks are getting pretty trendy right about now, and for good reason—they’re not only delicious, but wicked easy to make.

A shrub syrup is, at its most basic, a combination of fruit, sugar and vinegar, in more or less equal ratios. The recipe below—provided by Monique Carr of Spellbound Syrups—is for a basic Meyer lemon shrub, which can be easily tweaked to include other fruits, herbs, sweeteners or natural flavors. Try adding fresh rosemary, or ginger and cayenne, for instance, or throw in some green grapes to the first step to complement the champagne vinegar. Instead of turbinado sugar, you could use coconut or date sugar; instead of champagne vinegar, you could use white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar. The potential combinations are endless, and you’ll get a better idea of what flavors work best together as you experiment.

Oleo saccharum, which Carr mentions in this recipe and in her interview, is made by macerating sugar and fruit together—a process which extracts the oil (oleo) from the fruit. This sweet syrup has been used on its own by savvy bartenders in cocktails for centuries, but its flavor is taken to a whole different level when it’s made into a shrub.

To make oleo saccharum into a shrub, you just mix it with any kind of vinegar (plain white vinegar isn’t recommended, as it’s just a little too sharp and overpowering) and allow it to sit for a few days. This resting period makes a little bit of fermentation happen, increasing the probiotic punch of this sweet beverage and giving it a little pleasant funkiness. It’s somewhere close to kombucha, but more vinegary.

My favorite way to drink shrubs is simply to mix the syrup with some fizzy water (Topo Chico is the way to go), a few pieces of the fresh fruit used in making the shrub, and a few leaves of some fresh herbs like rosemary or basil. Pour this all over ice and you’ve got your next favorite summer drink on deck. You can also mix the syrup into a cocktail, iced tea or just about anything else you can drink.

There are several other methods of making shrubs besides this one, but this is the most straightforward. As long as you can plan to start making it a few days before you’re going to serve it, you’re golden.

Meyer Lemon Shrub

Makes approx. 3 cups of shrub syrup


7-8 Meyer lemons (1 1/2 cups of juice)
1/2 cup of turbinado sugar
3/4 cup of champagne vinegar

1. Remove the yellow part of the lemon peels with a vegetable peeler. Juice the lemons. Mash the sugar and lemon peels together to build an oleo saccharum.

2. Add the lemon juice and vinegar to the oleo saccharum. Blend to combine. Pour into a jar or bottle, seal it, and shake it to fully blend ingredients. Allow it to sit at room temperature for two to three days for flavors to marry, then keep in the fridge for up to two months (though, let’s be real, it probably won’t last that long).