While Ginger Beer tends to garnish more attention in cocktail circles, never underestimate the usefulness of Ginger Ale – especially if you’ve made it at home.
Providing plenty of ginger flavour without that spicy kick, ginger ale is a ginger soda that is nothing if not nostalgic. There is something about the sour, citrusy note that makes it not only refreshing but also irresistible. It is a drink that so easily takes you back to your childhood and long summer afternoons.
Mixing particularly well with dark spirits, ginger ale is a favourite with just about any of the whiskies and with aged or spiced rums. Throw some Bourbon and bitters in with it and you’ve got a Horses Neck. Mix some Pimm’s and lemonade (as well as an array of summer fruits) and you have a Pimm’s Cup.
And who doesn’t love a Presbyterian? We are, of course, talking about the Scotch and ginger ale highball cocktail. You can even mix it with gin and lemon juice for a Ginger Buck (take that Moscow Mule).
The advantage of making ginger ale at home is that it is not only economical but you’ll find the flavours a cleaner and deeper for the experience. Making it yourself also allows you to be aware of exactly how much sugar is in the drink (which is really not much), as well as being able to adjust the level of sour by how much lime juice you include.
Homemade Ginger Ale
- 1 1/2 cup chopped peeled ginger (7 ounces)
- 2 cup water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- About 1 litre chilled soda water
- About 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
For the syrup – Cook ginger in water in a small saucepan at a low simmer, partially covered, 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep, covered, 20 minutes.
Strain mixture through a sieve into a bowl, pressing on ginger and then discarding. Return liquid to the saucepan and add sugar and a pinch of salt, then heat over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Chill syrup in a covered jar until cold. The Ginger syrup will keep, chilled for a week.
To assemble the ginger ale – Mix ginger syrup with soda water and lime juice (start with 1/4 cup syrup and 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice per 3/4 cup seltzer, then adjust to taste).