What is a Shrub Drink?

Usually when people hear about Shrubbly, their first question is, “What is a shrub drink?” Wonder no more, we are here to tell you!

Dating back to the 15th century, shrubs were a popular preservation method. People combined vinegar with fruit for preservation, creating an infused vinegar. A little sugar was added and the new mixer was called a shrub. These sweet-sour mixers became popular for drinks, including cocktails and sodas.

The use of vinegar for preservation is even older, dating back to Ancient Egypt. Archaeological studies indicate that vinegar is nearly as old as wine (8,000 years). Centuries prior to refrigeration, most preservation and sterilization of food used alcohol or vinegar. Shrubs made their way to America in the 18th Century as a means to preserve citrus fruit and protect sailors from scurvy during long trips across the ocean. Shrub drinks quickly became popular in colonial America and remained popular through the early 20th century.

Diving into the history of the word “shrub”, it originates from the Middle English term “zarab,” which comes from the Arabic word “sharāb,” referring to wine or other beverages. Other modern English words that originated from “sharāb” include “sherbet,” “sorbet,” and “syrup.”

In modern America, vinegar is still a popular preservation method for those who pickle fruits and vegetables. It is a cheap and low-energy method for preserving the harvest and minimizing food waste. Shrub drinks are also coming back in favor, as consumers are demanding something healthier than soda, but more exciting than water for their beverages. With such a rich history, we are excited to help revive shrub mixers and ready-to-drink vinegar beverages.