Strawberry-White Balsamic Shrub from Outlander book ABOSAA

Strawberry-White Balsamic Shrub (Inspired by ABOSAA)

“Lemon shrub, ma’am?” A wilting slave, gleaming with sweat, offered me yet another tray, and I took a glass. I was dripping with perspiration, my legs aching and my throat dried with talking. At this point, I didn’t care what was in the glass, provided it was wet. I changed my opinion instantly upon tasting it; it was lemon juice and barley water, and while it was wet, I was much more inclined to pour it down the neck of my gown than to drink it. I edged unobtrusively toward a laburnum bush, intending to pour the drink into it, but was forestalled by the appearance of Neil Forbes, who stepped out from behind it.

A Breath of Snow and Ashes, "chapter 54 - Flora MacDonald's Barbecue"


That's hardly a glowing recommendation from Claire, so I don't blame you if you're a wee bit skeptical about my recipe choice for today. But before you judge me too harshly, you should know that shrubs are making a comeback  - they've undergone a bit of a facelift in culinary/cocktail circles as of late, and you'll now find them on summertime hipster bar menus everywhere, in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic forms. Shrubs have their roots in the Middle East — the word comes from the Arabic “sharab,” meaning a drink — and the early varieties used nuts, spices and rose petals for flavor.  On the other hand, Colonial America-era shrubs, like the one Claire sampled, were more utilitarian, meant simply to preserve fruits for later in the year, when fresh pickings were slim/non-existent. Modern mixologists are back to experimenting with more flavourful shrubs that are much more acceptable to today's discerning palates.

Strawberry White Balsamic Shrub

This Strawberry-White Balsamic is a delicious example of a new-age shrub. Sweet, slightly tart and utterly refreshing.  I hope you're inspired to start one of your own.

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24 Jul 2014 - 12:50pm


I know I read this, but truly I have never in my circle heard of the drink. Your recipe sounds very interesting. I chuckled to myself with Clarie's description of the drink and then you saying you could make a salad dressing with it also. Helen in Ark.


Give it a try and let me know what you think, Helen!

24 Jul 2014 - 4:26pm

Jacque Watkins

I have fresh strawberries and apple cidar vinegar ? Gonna try this today. For many years whenever we have colds, I make my "miracle cure" and it always works. Tastes horrible at first. 1/2 cup apple cidar vinegar 1/2 cup warm water As much honey as you want Cayenne pepper (optional) Drink

27 Jul 2014 - 4:12am


Yes, most definitely, Anita!

15 Aug 2014 - 12:25pm


I started this yesterday with the regular red balsamic vinegar and 1 cup sugar and strawberries, of course. I put some basil leaves in there as you suggested. It tasted great on day 1 so I know this is going to be awesome. Thanks! Karen

25 Jul 2014 - 1:45am

Anita Goddard

Theresa, can you make it with red balsamic vinegar as well?

14 Aug 2014 - 12:53pm


Lord John Grey made Restoratives. Do you have any recipes for his concoctions?

12 Sep 2014 - 9:49pm

Cate Fitt

This summer I had an abundance of blackberries so I made a shrub with some of them. I was a bit doubtful as I am not usually partial to vinegars. The results were surprisingly delicious and the pretty bottles I had intended as presents are almost all drunk up by me. I plan to save this recipe for next spring.


I am doing blackberry right now. It will be a week this Saturday. On Monday, it was a little two sharp. I have added ore sugar, we will see!

16 Oct 2014 - 2:32am

Wendy Ross

Hi Theresa. I made this shrub with apple cider vinegar and strawberries. I did not have any fresh basil at the time. It is sweet and sour. I just tried it mixed with some Seagrams 7 and very good. I also tried it with vodka and some lime juice and that's pretty good too. I'm going to still play with it. Obviously with two cups of vinegar it tastes very vinegary. To qualify as a shrub, does it have to use equal parts of fruit and vinegar or could one use less vinegar and/or more strawberries? By the way, I made Cherry Bounce with vodka and that is amazing -- so much so that we keep "testing" it and can't wait the six months. I made a cocktail with it - 4 oz of cherry bounce, 2-4 oz of lime juice (I use Simply Limeade) and a splash of cranberry juice. Yyummm!!

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