Mr. Peacock first enjoyed a glass of homemade ginger ale about 18 years ago at a little hole in the wall café on lower Haight Street, called Kate’s Kitchen. I don’t really like soda pop, because it’s usually too sweet and syrupy tasting, but I was immediately hooked on this homemade gingery beverage. It wasn’t too sweet and had a bit of a hot gingery kick after you sipped it.
Above: Mr. Peacock adores this vintage Canada Dry advertisement from the mid 1960's, with Ann Margaret—"the soft drink expert." (Via my friend Doug—thanks!)
I didn’t grow up drinking soda pop. My mother discouraged us from drinking any soda, because she thought it was “sugar water” with artificial color—and we never had soda pop in our house. In the summers as a kid, when I worked at my father’s golf pro shop, I was allowed to indulge in an occasional Dr. Pepper on scorching hot afternoons. Sometimes when I was home from school, sick with the flu or a sore throat, my mom would treat me to a bottle of Bubble-Up or Canada Dry Ginger Ale. Here’s my recipe for homemade ginger ale, made with naturally colored ginger syrup.
This is super easy to prepare and makes about 3 to 4 cups of ginger flavored simple syrup. Traditionally simple syrup is 2 to 1 ratio of water to sugar. You can experiment with the amount of sugar—less will make a ginger ale with a hot after taste, and more sugar will make more of a traditional ginger ale flavor.
Fresh Ginger-a loose ½ cup to ¾ cup sliced (about 2 “fingers” worth)
Sugar-1 ½ to 1 ¾ cup
1) Wash the ginger and slice it on the diagonal, about 1/8 inch thick. It doesn’t have to be cut perfectly. I don’t even bother peeling it, but you can if you prefer.
2) Place the ginger in a heavy saucepan and cover with about 5 or 6 cups of cold water.
3) Bring to a boil and cover with a lid. Continue to simmer for about 40 minutes.
4) Remove from heat and cool. Strain the liquid through a sieve, to remove the ginger. The liquid should be a light yellow to a golden brown color. I strained the liquid a second time though a finer sieve, just to remove every last bit of the ginger root sediment.
5) Measure your liquid and put back in the saucepan. You should have about 3 to 4 cups of liquid. Dissolve 1 to 1 ¾ cup granulated sugar into the liquid, depending on your taste.
6) Bring to a boil. Reduce heat continue to boil, whole stirring, for about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.
7) Pour into a container or jar. Keep the syrup covered in the refrigerator. It should stay fresh for a few weeks. Use it to sweeten your favorite hot or iced tea, and to make homemade ginger ale and Moscow Mules.
This is especially refreshing on a hot day, but it's also nice to sip after a heavy meal.
Ginger syrup (see recipe above)
Lemon slices to garnish
Fill a glass ¾ full with crushed ice. Pour an ounce or two of ginger syrup over the ice. Top with club soda and a squeeze of lemon. Stir and enjoy. Adjust the amount of syrup to your taste. If the syrup has too much of a “hot” aftertaste to your liking, add more sugar the next time you make it. Garnish with lemon slices.
A traditional Moscow Mule cocktail is usually made with one part vodka, one part lime juice and 3 parts ginger beer. Here’s Mr. Peacock’s version of a Moscow Mule.
Your favorite vodka
Ginger syrup (see recipe above)
Your favorite beer (or you can use ginger beer, if you don’t make the syrup)
Mint for garnish
Fill a highball or ice tea glass half full with ice. Pour 2 ounces of syrup over the ice. Add 1 or 2 ounces of vodka, 3 or 4 ounces of beer and a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice. Top off with club soda. Stir and garnish with lime and mint. Enjoy, but remember, this is one of those cocktails that doesn’t seem like it has any alcohol in it, so go slow drinking these Moscow Mules!
My sister, Carmella, recommends a bit of ginger for car or seasickness. This homemade ginger ale would be perfect. Do you have any ginger remedies?