Low Carb Cocktails – Cranberry Drinking Vinegar (Shrub)

While not a food group, cocktails are one of those things many people miss on a low carb diet (along with bread and sugar).  Alcohol itself, doesn’t pack in a lot of carbs or sugar, rather it is usually the mixers that take cocktails over the proverbial low-carb top.  With margaritas, it is generally the sweet and sour mix.  So… if you are going to imbibe over the holidays, why not try a low carb cocktail (margarita) dressed up beautifully with a Cranberry Shrub Syrup (aka drinking vinegar) instead of a sugary sweet and sour mix.  The low carb cocktail below was made with a Cranberry Hot Pepper Shrub Syrup, but you could use the Cranberry Ginger Shrub Syrup if you’re not a fan of heat. And there are more ideas for low carb cocktails at the end of the post!

low carb cocktails

Cranberry Shrub Margarita (with Cranberry Hot Pepper Syrup)

Is a Shrub Syrup really an alternative for low carb cocktails?

Well, there is sugar in a shrub syrup for sure, but it is reduced considerably compared to a simple syrup.  Shrub syrups are typically 1/3 fruit, 1/3 vinegar, and 1/3 sugar.  Simple syrups can be anywhere from 1/2 sugar upwards and they often contain artificial flavors for the fruit.  Shrub syrups (at least ours) are made from real fruit.

In the case of the Cranberry Shrub syrups, the cranberries come from Wisconsin, and are purchased from our friends at the St. Paul Farmers Market fresh off the bog each Fall.  Nothing artificial is added to our syrups.

Also, it is important to note that you don’t need to add a lot of shrub syrups to get a lot of flavor in low carb cocktails.

Oh, and as far as low carb fruits go cranberries are at the top of the list.

So, while not “no-sugar”, you can definitely make a low carb cocktail with a shrub syrup.  I wouldn’t recommend cocktails on a daily basis if you’re leading a low carb lifestyle, but if you’re a little mindful during the holidays you could certainly imbibe without a lot of damage to your progress.

For those that don’t drink alcohol, these syrups are wonderful with sparkling water and a squeeze of lime.

Recipe for Cranberry Shrub Margarita (made with Cranberry Habanero Shrub Syrup)

Yield:  1 margarita


  • 2 oz. tequila
  • 2 oz. Cranberry Habanero Shrub Syrup
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. triple sec (or orange liqueur)
  • kosher salt for rimming the glass
  • Garnishes: thinly sliced limes, lime wedges or fresh cranberries


  1. Use one of the lime wedges to moisten the rim of the glass and then dip glass rim into some kosher salt spread out on a plate.
  2. Combine the tequila, cranberry syrup, lime juice and orange liqueur in a shaker with ice.  Shake rather vigorously for about 10 seconds.
  3. Strain into low tumblers filled with ice.
low carb cocktails

Ingredients for Cranberry Shrub Margarita

More Low Carb Cocktails made with Cranberry Shrub Syrups:



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