From Too Many Chefs -

September 12, 2006
Old-fashioned Ginger Ale

gingersyrup.jpgAs regular readers of this site will have gathered, I'm more of a cocktail girl than a soda jerk. We have an ever increasing stock of Coca Cola cans in the back of our cupboard because the local Indian restaurant keeps offering them for free with deliveries and I'm too shy to tell them we don't like it. But there are exceptions to my soda-aversion and one of them is ginger ale. I like Canada dry, I like Vernons, I like just about every ginger ale I've ever tried. Ginger ale is not sold in France.

Story of my life.

So today I had a hankering for a tall bubbly glass of ginger ale and had to do what our American forefathers did when the shipment from England didn't arrive on time: improvise with local ingredients. Unlike them, I also had the infinite wisdom of the web at my fingertips, which also helped. So, based on a number of recipes and my own common sense here is my simple recipe for a refreshing glass of ginger ale:

For the syrup
150 grams of ginger, peeled and chopped
150 grams sugar
1 cup water

Combine these three ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a just barely bubbling boil and leave for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. (That's not actually necessary, but sometimes I'm a fiddly cook.)

In a clean wide jar that will hold at least a cup, squeeze the juice of one lime and one small lemon. Fish out the seeds if necessary.

Once the ginger syrup is getting a bit thick and syrupy, pour it into a strainer over the jar. Let it cool, if you have the leisure, before putting the lid on and shaking. (If you are in a hurry, do not put the lid on right away, but stir with a spoon. If you put a lid on a jar of hot liquid, as the liquid cools it will create a vaccuum and make it very difficult for you to open the jar. And messy.)

To assemble: fill a glass halfway with ice. Pour in ginger syrup and Perrier or some other fizzy mineral water at a proportion of 1:6, leaving a bit of space at the top of the glass so that you can add more water if it's too strong. Gingery, a little spicy and a little sweet and sharp with the lemon flavour, it's the perfect drink for a hot Indian summer afternoon. And if you happen to be on a boat prone with seasickness or in the throes of morning sickness it will alleviate your symptoms in a very nice way.

If you think that this method of using commercially produced fizzy water is for wimps, you might want to check out Barrett's version of ginger ale which is, well, alive.

Posted by Meg in Sussex at September 12, 2006 2:00 PM

That ginger ale sounds so good ! :)

Posted by Paul on September 13, 2006 at 9:46 AM


I take exception to your statement that Ginger Ale is not sold in France. Whenever I am in France, it is usually in the summer and I find a cold can of ginger ale refreshing. I can always find cans of Schweppes Ginger Ale for sale in small neighborhood markets.

Posted by Tom on September 13, 2006 at 5:35 PM

I love Ginger Ale, the more fiery the better.
I love ginger too, so I think the more the better! This is something I will definately give a try.

Posted by Scott at Real Epicurean on September 13, 2006 at 11:21 PM

Tom, you are right: I forgot to mention that I HAVE seen the occasional 2-litre bottle. But it's difficult to find a can of it and I generally drink it by the can. I'll keep a better eye out in the small Arab shops - maybe that's where I've gone wrong!

In any case, this recipe is pretty tasty and only takes about half an hour to make enough syrup for 6-8 glasses.

Also, I forgot to mention my pet peeve: when I have managed to find Canada Dry here I it doesn't taste the same as I remember. For some reason they have substituted part of the sugar with Nutrasweet, which I detest!! I can understand wanting to cut down on some of the sugar - it's one of the reasons I like it better than Coke and that ilk - but NUTRASWEET? Out of the frying pan and into the fire, in my humble...

Posted by Meg in Paris on September 14, 2006 at 1:29 AM

canada dry is available anywhere in france since many years, even in cans :)

Posted by krysalia on September 14, 2006 at 8:38 AM

Not in my local Monoprix or Franprix, I'm afraid Krysalia! I've lived in the 11th, the 12t, the 15th, the 16th, the 17th, Neuilly sur Seine and Montreuil so far...

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I've kind of gone off Canada dry since they started putting Nutrasweet in the equation!

Posted by Meg in Paris on September 14, 2006 at 12:43 PM

I remember having wonderful homemade ginger ale in Trinidad. It was made by our host, who was a fabulous cook who took me to the food market in Arima every morning, and every evening made a different traditional Trinidadian dish for us. She made the most potent ginger ale, and also a sorrel soda that was sour and purplish, and delicious.

Posted by lydia on September 16, 2006 at 9:53 PM

i really love ginger ale

Posted by joyce on January 6, 2007 at 9:23 AM

I`m looking for sugsr free Ginger Ale

Posted by DElla Barczyk on October 14, 2008 at 4:47 PM

I am looking for a full flavored ginger-ale. all that I try fall flat. Is there a brand out there that I don't know about? Thank you,...Waymon

Posted by Waymon Schmidt on March 2, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Waymon . . . I'll bet your my shipmate aboard the USS Wainwright. Stop by here in Western Michigan and I'll go buy a case of Vernor's . . .

Posted by JC Carlson on May 8, 2011 at 10:57 PM