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Low Carb Cocktails or Mocktails with Shrub Syrups

Low Carb Cocktails or Mocktails with Shrub Syrups
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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. 

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Spritzer in tall glass of apple shrub syrup and sparkling water with twist of lemon on top.
Apple spritzer with apple shrub syrup

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Alternatives to Sugary Mixers

For example, with margaritas, it is generally the sweet and sour mix that adds all of the calories and sugar.  So, an alternative to using the sweet and sour mixer would be to have tequila, club soda and generous squeezes of lime (aka a skinny margarita).

Judicious use of shrub syrups instead of pre-made mixers is another way to lower the calories and carbs of craft cocktails.

A really awesome margarita for the holidays might be this beautiful Cranberry Margarita made with a Cranberry Shrub Syrup. A fun shrub syrup to use here would be the Cranberry Hot Pepper Shrub Syrup, which packs a good amount of heat. If spicy cocktails are not your thing, try the margarita with the Cranberry Ginger Shrub Syrup

Want to make your own homemade shrub syrup? Here’s a recipe for the cranberry hot pepper syrup, and then here’s the information on making homemade shrubs syrups in general.

Cranberry margarita made with cranberry habanero drink syrup
Cranberry margarita made with cranberry habanero drink syrup

Calories and Carbs in Shrub Syrups vs Simple Syrups

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. 

Also, shrub syrups are usually made with whole fresh fruit, and the concentration of real fruit is intense enough that it doesn’t require a lot of syrup to get the flavor punch in a cocktail, so you can use less and still get the taste you want.

So, while shrub syrups are not considered “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 holidays or celebrations you could certainly imbibe without a lot of damage to your progress.

Do Shrub Syrups Work with Non-Alcoholic Drinks?

For those that don’t drink alcohol, shrub syrups are wonderful with sparkling water and a squeeze of lime. This way of using the syrups is often referred to as Mocktails or Italian Sodas

The information on making your own shrub syrups is the same, whether the final use is for a coktail or an Italian soda.

Margarita with Cranberry Ginger Shrub Syrup

Spicy cranberry margarita wiith bottle of orange liqueur, tequila and cranberry syrup.
A simple but festive margarita using a cranberry ginger shrub syrup
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 166


  • kosher salt for rimming the glass
  • 2 oz. tequila
  • 2 oz. Cranberry Ginger Shrub Syrup
  • 1 oz. lime cut in half for rimming and then juiced
  • 1 oz. triple sec or other orange liqueur
  • Garnishes: thinly sliced limes lime wedges or fresh cranberries


  • 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.
    kosher salt for rimming the glass, 1 oz. lime
  • Combine the tequila, cranberry syrup, lime juice and orange liqueur in a shaker with ice. Shake rather vigorously for about 10 seconds.
    2 oz. tequila, 2 oz. Cranberry Ginger Shrub Syrup, 1 oz. lime, 1 oz. triple sec
  • Strain into low tumblers filled with ice. Garnish with lime wedges or whole cranberries
    Garnishes: thinly sliced limes


Calories: 166kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 0.5gFat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0.01gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.02gSodium: 4mgPotassium: 75mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 48IUVitamin C: 16mgCalcium: 15mgIron: 0.3mg
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