Spicy and fragrant, ginger beer adds a dose of exotic flavor to every cocktail it touches. Familiar due to its relation to Ginger Ale, it has a much more pungent flavor ranging from mildly tangy to downright spicy.
I fell in love with ginger beer when some friends introduced me to the classic Dark ‘n Stormy cocktail and I’ve been a fan ever since. For those that enjoy unique flavors, it’s definitely a go-to. Offering a familiar yet distinctive flavor, its one mixer that just about everyone can get behind.
Ginger Beer Basics
Originating in Yorkshire, England in the mid-18th century, ginger beer reached its peak of popularity during the Victorian era. While similar to Ginger Ale, the primary differences can be found in the intensity of Ginger flavor as well as the presence of alcohol.
There are two types of ginger beer; alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Alcoholic ginger beer is brewed similar to regular beer, however in this post I’ll focus on the non-alcoholic ginger beer recipe.
How to Make Ginger Beer Syrup: Video
After recently encountering a post on A Bar Above that included a “cheater” ginger beer recipe I decided to dive right in.
Overall the process was very easy and once you’ve assembled the necessary ingredients, it should only take about an hour to prepare. Peeling the Ginger was the most difficult task, but everything else is easy.
Ginger Beer Recipe
- 2 Cups (about 10 ounces) Coarsely Chopped, Peeled Fresh Ginger
- 3 strips Lemon Peel (about 4 inches each), Yellow Part Only
- 1-1/2 Cups Sugar
- 4 cups water
- Combine Ginger, Lemon Peel and Water in a 4 Qt. Saucepan
- Bring to a Boil Over High Heat, Then Simmer on a Low Boil for 10 Minutes
- Add Sugar & Continue to Boil Until Reduced to 3 Cups (Approx. 15 minutes)
- Constantly Stir the Mixture
- Strain Solids from Mixture Using a Fine Mesh Strainer & Large Bowl
- Allow Syrup to Cool
- Store in a Refrigerated Glass Container
- Add 1 oz. Vodka to Extend Shelf Life to 2 – 3 Weeks
Ginger Beer Syrup Mixology
One thing that I really like about making your own ginger beer syrup is that you can adjust the taste to your preference. I found the original recipe’s observation that a 3:1 ratio of syrup to club soda creates a nicely spiced ginger beer is spot on, but a 4:1 ratio will work well for those with a milder palate.
Ginger Beer Cocktails
Ginger beer cocktails are tasty and unique, but I’ve found that there are relatively few. Perhaps it’s because the flavor is so distinctive or maybe this mixer has fallen out of fashion, but whatever the case the one’s I’ve tried are delicious. Consider these ginger beer cocktail recipes and let me know what you think in the comments:
Invented in 1941 by a bar owner and spirits distributor in New York’s Chatham Hotel, the Moscow Mule quickly swept Hollywood and spread to become famous across the west coast. Commonly served in a distinctive copper mug (story here) you can simply use a highball glass.
- Combine Ginger Beer and Vodka
- Fill With Crushed Ice
- Squeeze Lime Wedge Over Top and Place Into the Cup
A great option for the fall season, this cocktail was created at Philadelphia Talula’s Garden is refreshing, perfect for sipping on a cool fall evening.
- 2 oz. Vodka
- ½ oz. Ginger Beer Syrup
- ½ oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
- ½ pear, Chopped, Peeled, and Cored (Anjou, Moonglow, Bosc)
- Club Soda
- Muddle the Pear In a Tall 12 oz. Glass
- Combine Vodka, Ginger Syrup and Lemon Juice
- Fill Glass With Ice & Stir
- Top With Club Soda
Originally a non-alcoholic cocktail dating back to the 1890s, brandy soon found its way into this cocktail. Popular with the Royal Navy in the mid-1960s, this drink partnered with the venerable Gin & Tonic as the traditional go-to at cocktail parties.
- Spiral peel of a whole lemon (aka “Horse’s Neck”)
- 6 oz. Ginger Beer
- 2 oz. Cognac
- 2 Dashes of Angostura bitters
- Drop the peel into a highball glass
- Fill Glass with Crushed Ice
- Stir in ginger beer and cognac
- Top With 2 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
Dark ‘N Stormy
A classic by anyone’s account. Spicy and unique, I think that it would be tough to find someone that doesn’t gravitate toward this tasty ginger beer cocktail.
- 4 oz. Ginger Beer
- 1½ oz. Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
- Lime Wedge
- Fill Highball Glass with Ice
- Add Ginger Beer & Rum
- queeze Lime Wedge Over Top and Place Into the Glass
Stormy Monday Mocktail
Whether you’re hosting a party or just hanging out with friends, the sign of a considerate host is having a selection of appetizing non-alcoholic at the ready for those that either choose not to drink or may have already had a bit too much. This take on the traditional Dark ‘n Stormy is a refreshing option that will allow your guest to enjoy themselves without feeling left out or sentenced to an ordinary soft drink.
- 8 oz. Ginger Beer
- Lime Wedge
- 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
- Fill 10 oz. Highball Glass with Ice
- Add Ginger Beer
- Squeeze Lime Wedge Over Top and Place Into the Glass
- Top With 2 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
Other Ginger Beer Drinks
I’ve done my best to research some of the better ginger beer cocktails, but my liver will only allow me to take it so far. That said here are a few more options that you may enjoy. Although I have not tried each of these ginger beer recipes, the thought of a maple-flavored Nor’Easter sounds pretty tempting.
Commercially Available Ginger Beers
Making your own ginger beer is definitely easy, fun and unique, but if you don’t have the time or it’s just unappealing, there are plenty of ginger beer brands begging for your attention. Of the 3 non-alcoholic ginger beer brands I’ve tried, my favorite is Goya but that’s personal taste.
Here’ a brief description of each. Most can be found on Amazon.com. *Note: The links to these products are affiliate links which means we receive a commission if you make a purchase using this link.
- Goya Jamaican Style – Non-Alcoholic – This is my personal favorite. Available in grocery stores across the Northeast US, Goya Jamaican Style Ginger Beer has a real peppery bite.
- Goslings – Non-Alcoholic – For those that enjoy a lighter flavor, Goslings Ginger Beer may be right up your alley. Generally, I need more flavor though.
- Bundaberg – Non-Alcoholic – Haven’t tried this one yet, but it’s only a matter of time. Available at retail stores like World Market, it’s reported to be sweet with a spicy kick.
- Reeds Extra Ginger Brew – Non-Alcoholic – I’ve tried this one and it tasted more like a light soda versus Ginger Beer. That said, we all don’t have the same taste (thank goodness) so this may be worth a try. Typically available in mainstream markets.
- Crabbie’s – Alcoholic – An example of an alcoholic Ginger Beer. Brewed in the UK, I’m looking forward to trying this one. But for now I’ll stick with my “cheater” Ginger Beer syrup.
- Barritts – Non-Alcoholic – Straight from Bermuda, this is reportedly the “original” Ginger Beer used in concocting the Dark ‘N Stormy. I can’t comment on that but I’d like to try it some time when I hit the lottery (It’s kinda expensive).
- Fever Tree Premium – Non-Alcoholic – Considered a “premium mixer,” Fever Tree Ginger Beer has won a lot of fans for its flavor and what it doesn’t have: high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavor, coloring and preservatives. I haven’t given it a stab, but I definitely will.
Update: I just found Abraham Wallin’s Best Ginger Beers of 2013 which gets into some serious detail and also has a downloadable Ginger Beer guide. Clearly he’s committed (or should be 😉 )