Buffy Punch! A Grapefruit Shrub Cocktail

Rabid might not be strong enough a term for Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans—they’re like werewolves in their fiercely protective loyalty.

For fangirls and academics alike, Sarah Michelle Gellar gets a lifetime pass for playing Buffy with a pitch-perfect blend of wry, self-deprecating humor and seriousness, giving gravitas to the “teenage girl saves the world from the forces of the Hellmouth” plot that made so many stupid snobbish television watchers dismiss the show out of hand.

Your loss, suckas.

grapefruit shrub cocktail

Since the show ended in 2003, there’s been a regrettable lack of SMG on my teevee, and it was a given that I’d be watching when she finally returned to television in Ringer (one of the shows I watch with an open, un-guilty amount of pleasure; others in this category include RuPaul’s Drag Race and Hart of Dixie.)

If you like murders, secret-keeping, identity-swapping identical twins, the hotness of Ioan Gruffudd, and self-aware campiness that leads to episode titles like “What Are You Doing Here, Ho-Bag?”, please do watch.

As she’s playing both an ex-drug addict/prostitute on the run from a murderous kingpin and her twin sister who’s ditched her expensive Upper East Side life by faking her own death and is now clumsily plotting nefarious deeds (in a nutshell), Sarah Michelle Gellar doesn’t have too many opportunities to act Buffy-like on the show.

But she got to briefly unleash the kickass in an episode last month, clocking a guy in the face with a fist-meets-chin tiny blonde furor that made me yell, “Go Buffy!”

The awesome moment was quickly immortalized as the “Buffy Punch” in an email discussion with Fug Girls Heather and Jessica.

It was just as quickly decided that “Buffy Punch” also made a stellar name for a drink that’s kind of vapid at first glance, but which totally knocks you on your ass. And so I present The Buffy Punch in cocktail form.

The recipe is based on a shrub, a Colonial-era drink that came into being as a method of preserving in-season fruits.

Traditionally, whole fruit is macerated in vinegar and sometimes sugar or alcohol to break down the skins and pulp, and form a sweet but puckery syrup.

Some shrub recipes use heat to soften and infuse the fruits, boiling and straining away the jammy bits, but I’ve taken my inspiration from a blood orange shrub featured on Food in Jars for a citrus version using cold, freshly squeezed juice.

With a little bit of heat that leaves a lingering burn in your throat and the vinegar’s tart, savory undertones, it’s a surprisingly complex taste.

Like its namesake, the Buffy Punch seems simple—almost too simplistic—and unassumingly girly on the surface. But don’t underestimate it.

grapefruit shrub cocktail

Buffy Punch! A Grapefruit Shrub Cocktail

Yield: 1 quart
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 25 minutes

Named after Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy Punch is a tart grapefruit shrub-inspired cocktail with bite. Stake your claim.


  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 star anise pod, crushed
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed and strained pink grapefruit juice (from about 2 pink grapefruits)
  • 1 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1 Thai chili, sliced into rounds
  • 1 cup Hendrick's gin
  • seltzer for mixing


  1. Pour the sugar into a small saucepan and add the bay leaf, star anise, and 1/4 cup water.
  2. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and remove from heat when the syrup is clear.
  3. Cover and let steep for at least 30 minutes as the syrup cools to room temperature.
  4. Strain the syrup and whisk into the grapefruit juice and vinegar in a large pitcher or Mason jar.
  5. Whisk in the cayenne pepper or drop in the chili slices.
  6. Stir in the gin and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to a week to let the flavors meld. The vinegar aromas will be almost too powerful when first mixed, but will mellow out and blend with the companion flavors over time.
  7. Serve over the rocks for a bracing Buffy Punch, or mix with seltzer as desired for a less punchy version—a Buffy Caress, if you will.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 130Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 0gSugar: 13gProtein: 0g

The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.

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  1. Unexpected elements! Anise.Good.Cayenne. Wow.
    I never knew that vinegar was a basic in shrubs–but then I never made, or as far as I know drank a shrub. Heigh Ho for the American invention of the Cocktail!

  2. Girly, methinks you know how to make a good cocktail — or two. Love the sound of this eclectic offering — and the back story that got you there.

  3. Ooh! Vinegar in a cocktail–I have never tried this. It sounds inviting. Can’t wait to take a potent sip! (Go, Buffy!)

    1. Ha! “Go, Buffy!” is what I shouted at the TV when SMG threw that punch. I couldn’t help myself!

  4. Hmmm.. never saw the show, but I must admit that this drink has me thinking that it was a good watch. And what an interesting combination of ingredients. Wow. I’ll bet that packs a punch :)

  5. I didn’t watch BTVS until last year, because I thought it was just nerdy sci-fi. I was so, so wrong. And I love the Buffy Punch recipe! I’m going to try this soon!

  6. BTVS was the one show that I shut my whole life down for.. YOU DID NOT bother me, call me, enter the room or breathe loudly while i was watching this show.. I couldn’t wait for SMG to hit the screen again and I am totally hooked on RINGER.. I dont care what folks say about her.. i love that chick!…patiently watching the clock for a suitable time to make this cocktail..its only 702AM

    1. It’s now 8:30 here on the East Coast… did Daylight Savings Time help give you an excuse to make the drink?

  7. My friend recently got a video projector for the sole purpose of watching Buffy episodes on a big screen on her roof. We are so excited to make this to drink for the next showing!

    1. Natalie, that’s AWESOME. If you take some pictures of the get-together, I’d love to see them!

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