Strawberry-Chile Balsamic Shrub

Sweet strawberries meet up with tart balsamic and smoky chiles in this fruity shrub.

Strawberry Chili Balsamic Shrub

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 30 mins
2 1/2 cups

While shrubs have been around for centuries — they were originally used medicinally — the sweet and sour syrups have made their way to bar menus, and even more recently, home bars as well. Shrubs are vinegar-based syrups infused with fruits, herbs, and sometimes even vegetables before being sweetened with sugar. The result is a tasty syrup that can easily be incorporated into cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks alike. 

Developed by Jillian Vose of Charleston’s buzzy cocktail bar Hazel and Apple, this strawberry- and chile-infused shrub balances sweet, sour, and smoky spice. Vose steeps dried chiles de árbol with blended strawberries in a syrup made with high-quality balsamic vinegar. The vinegar not only adds tang, but deepens the color of the shrub, which has a stunning maroon hue. (Vose recommends Carandini’s Emilio Balsamic Vinegar, which is made in Modena with methods dating back to 1641, the year the brand was founded.)

When followed exactly as written, this shrub made from this recipe packs a punch of heat. If you are averse to spiciness, use half the quantity of dried chiles de árbol. As the shrub sits, the chiles will continue to infuse in the syrup, adding more heat over time—strain them out earlier if you prefer a less spicy shrub.

This recipe will make enough shrub to serve a crowd, and can last for up to two weeks if stored in an air-tight container in the fridge. Vose enjoys adding a tablespoon of this shrub to an ice-filled highball glass then topping with smoky mezcal and club soda for a piquant take on a simple spritz. If you’re a lover of frozen drinks, try adding a bit to a Margarita blitzed in the blender. For a non alcoholic beverage, simply top this shrub with seltzer and enjoy.


  • 10 medium frozen strawberries

  • 1 cup water, divided, plus more as needed

  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (such as Carandini Emilio Balsamic Vinegar) 

  • 10 (2-inch) dried chiles de árbol, torn in half crosswise, stems discarded


  1. Place strawberries in a blender with just enough water to cover berries (about 1/2 cup); puree until almost smooth and thick. Add more water, as needed, to reach desired consistency.

  2. Combine sugar, balsamic vinegar, and remaining 1/2 cup water in a small pot. Bring mixture to a vigorous boil over medium-high, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to a simmer; add blended strawberries and chiles. Simmer, stirring often, 20 minutes. Remove from heat; let mixture stand 2 hours to infuse.

  3. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh sieve, pressing to thoroughly strain; discard solids. Strain again to remove any remaining seeds. Store shrub in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

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