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



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:

Cheers, Simon

Posted on 06.06.07 at 6:43PM

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