An apple cider shrub cocktail (or mocktail) for fall! A shrub acts as an infused simple with a vinegary punch that mellows with resting. You’ll be rewarded for patience. Have this Apple Shrub on the ready for all your cocktail sippin’ needs.
What’s a Shrub?
Shrub. An unfamiliar word for an elixir, yes?
A shrub is simply a cold-infused simple syrup with vinegar added in equal parts. Sometimes spices and herbs are added to enhance the shrub. It’s sweet and tart but mellows with time to produce a smooth yet complex base for cocktails or for sipping without added spirits.
It takes some time to create, mostly hands off time, so plan accordingly.
How to Make an Apple Cider Shrub
Shrubs can be made with just about any variety of fruit, sugar, and vinegar. They’re easy to make and improve with neglect (how often can we say that?). This apple shrub is punchy, but mellows with a little time.
- First, grab a few apples, shred them, add sugar, a cinnamon stick, and anise pods. I like anise, so I add two.
- Next, stir the mixture together, cover, and shove it in the fridge for a few days. Twenty-four hours is all I can bear.
The mixture will melt down into a luscious syrup.
- Last, strain the solids and add equal parts apple cider vinegar to the syrup. Add a cinnamon stick for more cinnamon goodness.
Then you wait, if you can. I don’t.
The Waiting is The Hardest Part
Shrub cocktail recipes are newish to me. In fact, I had my first shrub this summer when I made Liz’s Blackberry Rum Shrub. I was blown away by the sweet-tart flavors and how vinegar elevates a cocktail.
If you can wait, the flavors of this apple shrub drink will marry and mellow over time. I find even a few days draws down the acidity of the vinegar and creates an ultra smooth finish when added to a cocktail.
That is, if you can wait…
If You Can’t Wait…
If you just can’t wait on this apple shrub, but need a shrub posthaste, there’s a quicker stove-cooked method, Serious Eats shares. But apparently, the cold method produces a brighter flavor as opposed to the stove-cooked method.
So take a few deep breaths and wait.
Patience is a virtue. <—- insert teeth grinding emoji.
More Shrub Recipes to Love
I’m so excited about shrubs, I’ve rounded up a few recipes to share! You’ll notice they can be enjoyed without spirits too.
- Blackberry-Ginger Rum Shrub Cocktail – Floating Kitchen
- Pumpkin Shrub – A Cookie Named Desire
- Apple Mint Shrub for a Maple Fig Bourbon Soda – How Sweet It Is
- Black Peppercorn + Cranberry Shrub with Gin – With Food and Love
Bourbon Apple Cider Shrub Cocktail
For the Apple Cider Shrub:
- 1 1/2 cup Apples shredded (your favorite variety), 240 grams
- 1 cup Cane Sugar 224 grams
- 2 Star Anise Pods * optional
- 1 Stick of Cinnamon
- 3/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar 190 grams, or a little more or less as needed
For the Cocktail:
- 1 1/2 ounces Bourbon 43 grams
- 1 ounces Apple Cider Shrub 28 grams, adjust this to your taste if needed
- 1 ounces Apple Cider 28 grams
- Club Soda
- Slices Apple for Garnish
Make the Shrub:
- In a mixing bowl, use a box greater to grate the apples, skins on. Add the sugar, anise pods and cinnamon stick. Stir throughly, cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours (I find 24 hour works well for me).
- Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer and into a measuring cup pressing the solids to squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Discard the solids except the cinnamon stick. To the syrup, add an equal amount of apple cider vinegar. (With this recipe I get 3/4 C syrup, so I add 3/4 C apple cider vinegar). Mix well and add the saved cinnamon stick. Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator. It will save for months (I've not tested it. Mine is usually gone in a few weeks!). Taste before using to make sure the flavor is still good. Discard immediately if it has any signs of fermentation (bubbling, slimy, or off odor).
Make the Cocktail:
- In a low ball glass add the bourbon, apple shrub, and cider. Fill with ice, top with club soda and stir. Garnish with apple slices.**
Oh. My. Deliciousness!! This has got to be one of the BEST cocktails I’ve ever had the pleasure of making and consuming!!
I picked up a bottle of #14 Bourbon Whiskey on our summer trip to VT (VT is the 14th state, thus the name!). Adding THIS to the shrub was the cherry on top. I picked up apples and cider from our local orchard as well. SO good. SO smooth. Such an amazing autumnal/holiday cocktail. Thank you for sharing this incredible recipe! I’m so glad I found your blog and am thoroughly enjoying perusing it and trying out your recipes!
Hi Tammy! So happy to hear you’re enjoying the shrub and checking out other recipes on the blog! Thank you for stopping by!
When I made this recipe I ended up with 2 cups syrup. The recipe says to add equal amount of apple cider vinegar. So I added 2 cups. After leaving in fridge for two days, it was still too vinegary. Did I do that right by adding that much vinegar?
Hi Yvonne! Equal amounts of syrup to vinegar is correct. As written, I only got 3/4 C syrup (reason for 3/4 C vinegar). Shrubs are very sugary/vinegary, reason why shrubs are generally mixed in small amounts with something else like seltzer, sparkling wine or in a cocktail. The longer it sets in the fridge, it should mellow further with a bit of time. I hope this helps!
I see my mistake! I put the 3/4 cup vinegar in with the apples, sugar and spices. Then I added more vinegar after it had sat. I am going to try again. The right way this time!
Oooh… maybe by adding more syrup to the existing shrub, it can be rescued? I hope so! You’ve inspired me to make apple shrubs for this season! I hope the new batch works out, Yvonne!
wow, love how “from scratch” this recipe is with the shrub, which is completely new to me, great excuse for some R&D, thank you for this!
I was pretty excited to try this, Sabrina and thinking the vinegar would be too stout for my taste. However, I’ve been quite smitten with shrubs and can’t wait to do more R&D with summer berries arrive! I hope you enjoy it.
This is wonderful. Made the shrub, 24 hr method. We made test drinks last night, before Thanksgiving. First one I added too much club sofa. So go light on the club sofa, add to taste. Thank you for this recipe.
Alexandra | Occasionally Eggs
I’m not a drinker but this sounds sooo good as a non-alcoholic autumn drink! I haven’t visited in a while and I’m loving your photos, Traci, they’re extra gorgeous.
I’m a new fan of shrubs, too, and this one sounds fantastic. I’ll let you know how it turns out for me!
Hooray Maren! I hope you enjoy it! :D
Looks so tempting♥ Love your photography too ♥
Thank you so much Summer!
This apple shrub looks amazing! Never had one, can’t wait to try it!
Thank you Mira… I hope you enjoy it!
Denisse | Le Petit Eats
We had some delish strawberry and elderflower shrubs at a friend’s summer wedding, but apple is absolutely perfect for fall! Can’t wait to try this!
Now that sounds like a lovely shrub, Denisse! I hope you enjoy it!
Beeta @ Mon Petit Four
Oh yum, this cocktail looks and sounds so good! I’ve never used shrub in a cocktail, but then again, I’m also no cocktail maker! :p I would love to try this out though! You’re always coming up with such fantastic recipes, Traci <3
Thank you! I think you’d appreciate this Beeta… complex yet smooth. :D
Amber | Quite Good Food
Traci these sound so interesting! I love sharp vinegary flavours and can only imagine how well they could work in a cocktail. Definitely on my must-try list.
Please do and let me know what you think, Amber!
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
I have never tried a shrub Traci, but I have seen a few and I am intrigued. I’m not big in the patience department, but sounds like these would definitely be worth the wait. I love the addition of the anise and of course you know I love that bourbon! Thanks for sharing. I’m thinking this needs to be served up over the Thanksgiving holiday!
Worth the wait, yes, but I gotta say, I don’t! hehe.. but I do notice how it mellows with a bit of time behind it. For the better. I hope you enjoy it Mary Ann!
Patience is a virtue and maybe even designed for this very moment! ;) This apple shrub looks and sounds incredible! You make a beautiful cocktail, my friend! Cheers to a wonderful weekend! xo
Agreed, Annie! Thank you so much! :D
“They’re easy to make and improve with neglect (how often can we say that?).”
Oh Traci!! You’re the cutest! :)
I have never made shrubs but it sounds fabulous. I will give it a try for sure.
Big kisses from all of us…
Lol, right? I think you’d like this Rafaella.. for all your sippin’ needs ;D !
Denise | Sweet Peas & Saffron
I need to get on the shrub train because I’m so intrigued! And of course because this looks absolutely gorgeous. Happy Friday…cheers!
Thank you Denise. They’re quite easy to pull together.. they just need a bit of time to rest! Cheers!
Geraldine | Green Valley Kitchen
I’ve never tried a shrub drink before, Traci. It seems it would be so tasty with all the apple flavoring – perfect for fall! Looking forward to trying my first shrub! Cheers to a great weekend.
I think you’ll like this Geraldine. It has a unique flavor and it’s very satisfying. I look forward to hearing your thoughts! :D
Julie @ Cooks with Cocktails
Oooo Traci! Great. Idea with this one. I love shrubs and just learned about them last year. They really pack the flavor and give a je ne sais quoi to cocktails. I love the Apple shrub idea for the season. Gorgeous pic too, as usual :)
Aren’t they fun!? I’m curious what shrubs you have on your site… will take a peak! :D
Liz @ Floating Kitchen
YAS! I love this so much, Traci! I was thinking I need to do an apple shrub this season while they are still so good and fresh. Also, I saw Amanda from A Cookie Named Desire did a pumpkin shrub this week which sounds so cool! Would have never thought to use pumpkin for a shrub! Cheers to the weekend. Wish we were having one of these together!
Yayy! You make the best cocktails, Liz!! I’ll be making your blackberry shrub again with the blackberries I froze this summer. I loved it so much. Yeah, and Amanda’s pumpkin shrub is incredible, right? We need to have a shrub parTy!! I’d love to share a cocktail with you too my dear! xo
I bet you could use the shrub in all,sorts of things!??
Agreed! It’d be a tasty treat in a nonalcoholic sipper too. :D