Cranberry Tangerine Shrub - Drink Bursting with Festive Flavors

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Cranberry Tangerine Shrub - Drink Bursting with Festive Flavors

Christmas parties are always a juggling act. So many guests and so many preferences!

But I can help you with the drinks, especially if you have guests who are abstaining from alcohol and still want something fun and exciting to drink.

This Cranberry Tangerine Shrub recipe beats water or straight juice when it comes to a festive drink, and for guests looking for cocktails, this mixes easily with liqueurs, too!

This bush is for drinking

Let's tackle the name first: no, this "shrub" has nothing to do with the ones in your front yard.

A bush is a term hundreds of years old that actually encompasses a number of techniques for making and enjoying a vinegar-based drink.

For today's recipe, we are going to focus on the bushes as a drinking vinegar that preserves fruit juice.

For a deeper dive into shrubs and their history, I recommend reading Michael Dietsch's Shrubs.

Shrubs can be made with any fruit or combination of fruits, herbs, spices, you name it.

If there's a combination of fruits that you love to eat together, chances are you'll love it on a bush, too; they are wonderfully versatile that way.

For winter parties and holidays, I like to go with what is in season.

Blueberries and tangerines are likely readily available at your grocery store this time of year and are a great combination that also goes well with holiday meals.

The blueberries contribute a strong acidity that is balanced by the sweet mandarins.

If you have trouble finding tangerines where you are, you can substitute a sweet orange like navel or cara cara.

Avoid the more bitter varieties or you'll need to add extra sugar to your recipe. And blueberries, fresh or frozen, are fine since you'll be mixing them for the recipe.

Go with a good vinegar

Since a bush has (usually) minimal ingredients, the quality and type of each ingredient is important. Just as fruits can vary for a bush, so can vinegar.

Use a high quality vinegar here as you will be drinking it! Many shrubs can use vinegars like red wine, apple cider, or champagne, but don't use distilled white vinegar; it's hard and not nice here.

For this recipe, I used apple cider vinegar, but I encourage you to play around with different types of vinegar to see which one suits your taste buds best.

Ways to Serve This Shrub

Shrubs can be served in a variety of ways and can remain non-alcoholic or serve as the base for a fun cocktail.

The recipe below is alcohol-free, but if you want to change that up, you can substitute white rum, vodka, or even a sparkling wine for the sparkling water.

I like to serve this in a tall glass, with lots of ice and some skewered blueberries for garnish.

Sugared cranberries are also great if you have them on hand and make a festive garnish for the holidays.


  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • Zest of 3 tangerines, preferably organic (see recipe note)
  • 2 cups whole blueberries (thawed if frozen), rinsed
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Sparkling water, to serve

Special equipment

  • 1 (1 liter) glass bottle


Crush the zest and sugar:

In a glass jar, mix the sugar and zest. Lightly mash the zest in the sugar with a mashing stick or the back of a wooden spoon (the zest will soften when in the sugar in the next step).

Cover and let sit on the counter for 2 hours.

Squeeze the tangerines:

Meanwhile, juice the 3 mandarins. You should have about 1/2 cup of juice. Put it aside.

Mix the blueberries and vinegar:

Combine the blueberries and apple cider vinegar in a blender. Blend until smooth, about 20 to 30 seconds. Put it aside.

Remove the sugar shavings:

After 2 hours, scrape off the sugar and discard (or compost!).

Mix the infused sugar with the infused vinegar:

Pour the tangerine juice and blueberry puree into the bowl with the sugar. Mix to match. The mixture will become thick.

Leave to infuse 2 days:

Cover the bowl with a tea towel or other light covering and leave it on the counter for 2 days.

Strain and bottle the bush:

After 2 days, strain the solids through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth over a medium bowl.

Wait at least 10 minutes for the fluid to drain; do not press solids into the filter. Discard the solids.

Bottle the liquid in a glass container and refrigerate. The bush lasts up to 2 months in the refrigerator.

Mix into drinks:

To make the drink, combine 1 ounce of bush with 2-3 ounces of sparkling water over ice in a tall glass. Garnish with blueberries, if desired.

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