DOTW: Gin-Gin Cooler

Posted by Anita on 05.25.07 7:03 AM

(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reservedAfter reading yet another post extolling the virtues of making your own ginger beer, I decided to take the plunge. Aside from the tedious (but strangely relaxing) task of peeling and grating 2 pounds of fresh ginger, it’s quite a simple operation.

Dale DeGroff’s homemade ginger beer recipe — recommended by Robert at Explore the Pour — isn’t very sweet at all: A mere 3/4 cup of sugar to 2 gallons water. If you want sweetness in your drink, it’s simply a matter of adding simple syrup to taste. Starting with a barely-sweetened ale, you’ve got the flexibility to use liqueurs or flavored syrups without fear of a cloying end result.

Other than a prominent ginger taste, the largest difference between the commercial stuff and the homemade variety is a lack of fizz. I experimented with carbonating part of my batch by running it through a soda siphon; it worked, although perhaps a bit too well. The relatively dense liquid hung on to the CO2 bubbles better than plain water would, resulting in a thick-headed mess. Not wanting to waste any of my brew, I emptied the contents of the siphon into pint glasses, allowed the foam to subside, and funnelled the result into an empty bubbly bottle (which I capped with a spring-loaded Champagne saver). The end result: A lightly carbonated, highly gingery, very dry ginger beer.

Of course, there’s no shortage of good cocktails that use ginger ale as a base: Moscow Mule, Headless Horseman, and Dark & Stormy, to name just three. But this week’s entertaining schedule included a fair number of parents with a sharp eye on their little ones. You can’t just whip up a strong cocktail under these sorts of circumstances (no matter how tempting it may appear to the bartender).

Riffing on Audrey Saunders’ Gin-Gin Mule, an increasingly popular Moscow Mule variation, I combined my ginger beer with the usual gin, lime, and mint, but in a simpler, lighter arrangement. No muddling, less gin, less lime, and a little added fizz… a few variations and you’ve got breezy Mule alternative that’s not the least bit watered down. It’s a faintly boozy drink, a good option when entertaining guests who lack the cocktail gene, or when the weather’s hot enough for multiple cold beverages around the barbecue. In short, it’s a perfect Drink of the Week for summer’s first long weekend.

Gin-Gin Cooler
1/2 oz simple syrup (mint or rosemary flavored, if possible)
1 to 1.5 oz dry gin
4 oz homemade ginger beer
juice of 1/4 to 1/2 lime
soda water
mint sprig

In a 12 oz highball glass filled with ice, combine the syrup, gin, ginger beer, and lime juice. Top with soda water to fill, and garnish with a mint sprig.

If you’re using commercial ginger ale, be sure to pick a quality brand with plenty of bite. Skip the soda water and reduce or eliminate the syrup, depending on the sweetness of your mixer; the end result will be more along the lines of a Shady Grove. If you decide to make your own ginger beer, be forwarned that DeGroff’s recipe yields a generous two gallons. It freezes well, however.

Drink of the Week, drinks, entertaining, recipes
5 Comments »

 

5 Comments

Comment by Write Procrastinator

Drink two glasses of this, eat something with habanero peppers in it and you can be a fire-breather down at Pier 39…without the need of a torch.

Posted on 05.25.07 at 7:29AM

Comment by Anita

WP: Actually, they’re not terribly strong, although the ginger does pack a wollop. :D

Posted on 05.25.07 at 7:52AM

Comment by Anita

I should mention that the ginger beer link in the recipe from the Cocktail Chronicles, and makes a more-reasonably sized batch. DeGroff’s recipe, which I used, can be found behing the Explore the Pour link in the lead paragraph.

Posted on 05.25.07 at 5:13PM

Comment by Doug

Anita, I agree…its got some kick, but I find ginger beer (with lots of ice) can be just the thing on a hot day.

Posted on 05.26.07 at 7:33AM

Comment by Simon

Hi! Traditional ginger beer is actually fizzy – it can be fermented in the bottle or by using a yeast “plant” from which you periodically drain off fermented beer and “feed” with sugar and ginger. I don’t know about this recipe, but it’s a good start:
http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/Cheese/Ginger_Ale_Ag0.htm

Cheers, Simon

Posted on 06.06.07 at 6:43PM

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