Rhubarb Shrub

In this article Alistair's wife, Pia, shares her love affair with Shrubs.

It all started when I was pregnant and was looking for a non-alcoholic drink that would feel as special as a cocktail. It was coming up to the festive season and I felt like I was missing out when my friends and family were indulging in beautiful looking cocktails. I stumbled across an article about drinking vinegars and shrubs and thought they sounded like they'd be worth a try.

A few weeks later, we went on a day trip to our Auntie Karen's place in Somers and she sent us home with a beautiful bunch of rhubarb. The perfect ingredient to try my first shrub!

I researched a few recipes and decided to try this one. Being me, though, I tweaked it slightly as I was hesitant to add so much vinegar without tasting it as I went. 

Here is the recipe I ended up creating. It's beautiful mixed with soda and fresh mint, with gin, or we love using it in our Somer's Southside cocktail. 


  • 4 1/2 cups rhubarb cut into small pieces, about one cm long (I feel that the smaller the pieces, the better the juice is extracted)
  • 2 cups sugar (I like to use raw sugar in this recipe)
  • 2 cups white vinegar


Add rhubarb and sugar to a saucepan. Let it sit for at least 6-7 hours. (I like to leave it over night). You will notice that the juice from the rhubarb should have started seeping out. 

Place the saucepan on a medium heat until it starts to boil. 

Reduce the heat to low and simmer 20-30 minutes, or until the rhubarb is broken down and stringy.

Remove from heat, let it cool.

Strain the liquid into a clean, sterile, jug. 

Add vinegar 0.25 cups at a time. Taste, and then continue to add more vinegar until you've reached the taste you like. 

Transfer to a sterile glass bottle or jar.