What's a Shrub?

Burly Beverages Tasting Room and Gift Shop, dried fruit and herbs

The origin of the shrub

If you love making fizzy drinks or craft cocktails at home and you have not been using shrubs, then you are missing out. A shrub, sometimes also called 'drinking vinegar', is essentially a non alcoholic fruit syrup. Typically made from fruit, aromatics, sugar and vinegar. If you aren't a fan of vinegar, don't worry – in a well balanced shrub the vinegar perfectly compliments the sugar with the right amount of tartness. 

Shrubs originally were created as a way of preserving fruit before modern refrigeration. As far back as the 15th century these fruit liquors were used as medicinal cordials and thought to be beneficial for one's health. In 17th century Europe these morphed into liqueurs and were made with fine rum or brandy. The American version has its origins in England, where vinegar was poured over fruit and then sugar was added. Once strained this syrup would be mixed with soda water or in an alcoholic beverage. 

Resurgence of craft cocktails

In the early 2000's there was a resurgence of craft cocktails and a vigorous interest in ingredients. No more cocktails made with lime juice out of a plastic lime squeeze bottle. Bartenders began searching for local, seasonal ingredients for their creations to compliment the dishes they were paired with. For the home bartender, sourcing shrubs for their bar home invited infinite flavor combinations at their fingertips.

Not just for cocktails

Shrubs are not just for cocktails. In fact, the shrubs by Burly Beverages, featured in our June Box, were created to make a better tasting and healthier soda. Owner and maker Gabriel Aiello originally was looking to make a better ginger beer. Fast forward many years later and he has a complete line of shrubs that can be used to make soda, cocktails or mocktails. When you buy our June box you will receive a video about Gabe, and a demo on how to make a cocktail he created just for us, called The Mandy, using his Mandarin-Elderflower Shrub Syrup

Burly Beverages mandarin elderflower shrub and j.j. Pfister Gin Cocktail, The Mandy

Why Burly Beverages?

Like all of our partners in our curated culinary boxes, Burly Beverages exemplifies everything we want to showcase and share with you. Gabe knows his ingredients and his farmers, and sources locally grown organic produce whenever he can. He is an amateur chef with a really good palette and a talent for combining flavors, and he makes every small batch himself. His best friend growing up labels his bottles. He has known his source for mandarins, Rich Colwell of Colwell Thundering Herd Ranch since he was a little boy. Gabe appreciates the richness of the Sacramento Valley and the value of community.  He has done pop ups at Magpie (one of our food tour partners) and partnerships with Conscious Creamery (vegan gelato!!) as well as many others. He opened a charming speakeasy style tasting room and gift shop that is in North Sacramento in 2018. Check the the website for hours, and when you visit, be sure to ring the bell!

Burly Beverages Tasting Room and Gift Shop


Meet the Maker – Gabe Aiello of Burly Beverages, Sacramento, Califoria

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