Orange-Spice Shrub: A Christmas Cocktail

Orange-Spice Shrub: A Christmas Cocktail

I plan to spend Christmas Eve with a big plate of oysters and a Christmas Cocktail. There will probably be some Christmas music playing. I tend to favor the classics like Frank Sinatra. Still, I’ll be pleased when the caroling stops this year. Call me Grinch but the first time I hear Bing Crosby croon his way through “White Christmas,” each year it can coax a smile and maybe even a tear. However, by the 107th time, my ears (and my tears) have gone numb.

There are exceptions. I can listen to the Vince Guaraldi A Charlie Brown Christmas album all year long. When I was a kid it was easier to avoid Christmas carol overload. There was no Christmas in July or even a hint of “on demand” TV. So Charlie Brown and his pathetic bent over Christmas tree always waited until after Turkey Day to hum their way into my heart. To this day nothing can get me wound up for the Holidays quite like Lucy refusing to eat “December snowflakes”. I still can’t get into the Christmas spirit until I’ve heard the songs from that show. Of course, Netflix and the like have changed all that. I can stream A Charlie Brown Christmas anytime I like. Holiday nostalgia is just a click away 24 hours a day 365 days a year.

Charlie Brown Christmas

But Charlie Brown isn’t the only thing that revs me up for the holidays. Nope. Tangerines, lemons, limes, and especially oranges all remind me of Christmas because my mom used to stuff a giant navel orange into the toe of my Christmas stocking. Year after year – no matter how old I got – my mom adhered to that old European tradition that considered oranges and other citrus fruits the rarest of treats. 

The same goes for the holiday cocktail. How many rounds of eggnog can we take before palate fatigue sets in?

With that in mind, I’ve turned to a citrus and spice shrub to keep the season bright and my Christmas cocktail as merry as ever. Merry Christmas! GREG

Orange-Spice Shrub: A Christmas Cocktail

Orange-Spice Shrub

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 1Source The Spirit GuildPublished
Orange-Spice Shrub


  • 1 orange (peeled and cut into chunks)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • ⅓ cup roasted shelled pistachios
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 ½ ounce London dry gin (optional)
  • soda water (as needed)
  • 1 orange twist (as garnsih)


To make the shrub: In a 1‑quart jar, combine the orange chunks, sugar, cinnamon sticks, pistachios, and cloves. Cover and briefly dry shake the ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

The next day, add the vinegar and shake the ingredients until the sugar begins to dissolve and refrigerate another 24 hours. Filter the shrub through a fine-meshed sieve lined with cheesecloth into a clean jar or bottle. This recipe makes more shrub than you need for one cocktail the extra may be stored covered and refrigerated up to six weeks.

To make the cocktail: Fill a double old-fashioned glass with ice cubes. Add gin (if using) and 1‑ounce orange-spice shrub, top with soda water to taste. Gently stir then garnish with an orange twist.