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Making shrubs got retrospective

It didn't start recently, it's been building for a long time. I was a vegetarian as a teen—my dad joined, but my mom and siblings ate meat. That spawned my love of cooking, making, if I wanted something interesting, I'd better make it myself. Actually—it was earlier than that. As a kid my mom and I would build villages out of Fimo clay. But I didn't see this lineage when I started making soap and candles in 2016. I just wanted to keep busy.

The transition into making felt natural, even though I got more than a few sideways glances. You're leaving your job as an architect to make candles? But it didn't always feel like it fit. That feeling has grown, made more and more sense. Then the other day when I was making shrubs, something clicked. I realized that I started acquiring the skills to craft scents far before I thought. While I've now seen many lines I could draw, the process of making shrubs is very similar to the maceration method for creating aromatic oils.

Maceration is what we use to create kelp, tobacco, alder oils and some of our seasonal one-offs like black currant shoots. Basically it means putting plant material (that's been cleaned and processed) into a solvent, we use fractionated coconut oil. Then it sits. For us, it's usually between 60 and 90 days. We strain the botanicals from the oil and use the scented oil in candles, soaps, scent sprays, oil blends etc. Sometimes we put the spent botanicals into a soap, like our Tertulia bar, that has cuban tobacco in it.

Right around the time we first started learning about the coronavirus, I cut down my alcohol consumption significantly. To stay successful with this, I found I had to have a substitute. At first, I just drank club soda, but quickly grew tired of it. I wanted something special! Sometimes I drink non-alcoholic beer (Libra is my go-to if I plan in advance, PC red is if I don't) but other times, I'm feeling something else. And in that case I usually blend shrubs with soda, or with soda and a non-alcoholic spirit like Seedlip or Lumette. When I cut down alcohol, my shrub intake went WAY up. Something I used to make once or twice a year, I was now making big batches every other week. Then a few weeks back, I found myself with a ton of grapefruits after we did an installation, and couldn't think of a better way to use them up.

Grapefruit ginger shrubs


  • Zest and fruit of 3 grapefruits (pith removed)

  • Thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

  • 1/2 cup of sugar (adjust for desired sweetness)

  • 500mL of apple cider vinegar, unpasteurized with mother (I use Boates if I can find it, Bragg's if I can't)


  1. Mix all the ingredients in a sterilized one litre mason jar. Make sure all of the fruit is covered in liquid.

  2. Let sit in a cool dark space, anywhere from three days to three weeks.

  3. Strain, then enjoy!

You can use any kind of fruit, some other favourites of mine are blueberry juniper and raspberry thyme. Depending on the ingredients you use, and how often you open the jar shrubs stay good in the fridge for two to six months. I'm trying a little thing and will be doing a live happy hour on social media where I'll share a cocktail recipe with these shrubs. You can find me here at 5P NST on Friday October 8th.


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