Blackberry Basil Canna-Shrub

Everything old becomes vogue again, especially when it’s as stylish and vibrant as a homemade shrub. What’s a shrub? A simple name for a blend of fruit juice and vinegar, a shrub is etymologically rooted to the Arabic word “sharāb,” meaning, “to drink.” Popular in 17th century England, shrubs were often served in pubs with brandy or rum. Across the Atlantic, colonial Americans used shrubs as a simple method to preserve fruit; the vinegar content allows shrubs to last weeks in the fridge. Like any good millennial, I have a healthy appreciation for both craft beverages and old-timey everything, so shrubs naturally peaked my interest. While bartenders in America’s great foodie cities have been serving creative, botanical cocktails featuring housemade shrubs for the past few years, I’m inclined to drink a shrub instead of the afternoon cocktail I know I don’t need. More exciting than iced tea, a shrub can be crafted from an endless variety of fruits and herbs, balanced by equal parts vinegar. If you’re a kombucha drinker, shrubs will be your jam. While some recipes feature red wine vinegar and even balsamic, I rely exclusively on apple cider vinegar, famed for it’s healing properties against everything from the common cold to chronic inflammatory diseases.

Of course, we had to try infusing our homemade shrub with high CBD medicinal cannabis tincture – this is “The Emerald,” afterall! And while we’re trying to boost our healthy digestive acids and cut back on alcohol, it’s only natural to incorporate medicinal cannabis. The CBD tincture played nicely off the basil in this recipe, subtly bumping up the herbaceous profile.

For an afternoon refresher, pour 5 ounces of the shrub in a Collins glass with ice. Top with 3 ounces of soda water and infuse with a dropper full of your favorite CBD cannabis tincture. Stir. Garnish with fresh basil and blackberries if you have company.

Use this recipe as a starting point; experiment with fruit in season and herbs growing in your garden. And don’t worry – I did make at least one cocktail with my delicious shrub! A shot of Hendrick’s gin with 4 ounces of the blackberry basil shrub, topped with a splash of soda water, was heavenly. The shrub provides both a sweet and bitter profile in one easy pour, so have fun experimenting. Cheers!


1 cup blackberries, rinsed and lightly crushed

4-6 large basil leaves

1 cup organic sugar

1 cup organic apple cider vinegar


Place berries and basil in a bowl. Add sugar and stir. Cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until juice runs freely from berries. Depending on your fruit, it may take anywhere from 5 hours to a couple of days – this is not scientifically crucial.  A short maceration won’t hurt anything, but a longer one will provide more fruit intensity.

Strain syrup from fruit into large liquid measuring cup. Alternatively, use a bowl and funnel.

Add vinegar; whisk to combine.

Pour into glass bottle. Shake with cap on securely and mark the date. Your shrub should last up to a month.

Though ready to serve immediately, test to your liking. The vinegar taste will mellow over time. Enjoy!

Emerald contributor since January 1970


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