As a new mom, I have been on the hunt for delicious and inexpensive cocktails for entertaining. If they are easy to make, all the better! One mixer we always have at the Laurie household is ginger beer. Ginger beer is one of the hottest yet most confusing drinks right now. It’s nonalcoholic and carbonated like a ginger ale, but unlike a ginger ale, it is brewed and fermented. Slightly sweet, it has a spicy kick that makes it unique. Instead of thinking Vernors, think the raw ginger you get with sushi. A single four pack goes a long way and can make many drinks. Our favorites are The Moscow Mule, Dark and Stormy, and Izmir Iced Tea.
In keeping with the classic tale of necessity being the mother of invention, this drink saved the careers of two men. John G. Martin–an East Coast spirits distributor who was trying to get vodka its start and Jack Morgan–who had invested greatly in ginger beer–were chatting at Jack’s bar when the men put the two together, added lime juice and created this wildly popular drink.
2 oz Good-Quality Russian Vodka (I like Stoli.)
4 oz Jamaican’s Finest Ginger Beer (chosen for its extra bite)
½ oz Lime Juice
Pour all ingredients over ice into a Collins glass or traditional Copper mug and stir.
Dark and Stormy
As I was writing this, I was called to the liquor counter where a gentleman was looking for the ingredients for a Dark and Stormy! He was from Boston and told me that since Bermuda (the homeland of the D&S) is only a two-hour flight away, this drink is huge on the East Coast. Though this was historically a sailor’s drink, mixing the daily allocation of rum with something a bit more palatable than sea water, it’s now a favorite of land lovers too!
2 oz Goslings Dark Rum
3 oz Goslings Ginger Beer
Pour the ingredients over ice in a Collins or Pint glass, stir, and garnish with a lime wedge.
Izmir Iced Tea
“These are a few of my favorite things!” This is what I thought when I read the ingredients in the Izmir Iced Tea: pomegranates, mint, and ginger beer! Oh my! Along with chai tea, pomegranate molasses and vodka, this drink makes for a festive red and green cocktail. Mint, chai tea and pomegranates are all very popular in the Turkish town of Izmir, which rests on the Mediterranean coast–hence the name. There are many sensations to this refreshing drink: the fresh smell of mint, the tartness of pomegranate, and the spicy kick of the ginger beer. Pretty and easy to make, the recipe translates well to a pitcher or punch bowl. When I serve it at my holiday party, I just might rename it Turkish Delight!
Sprigs Fresh Mint
1/2 oz Sweetened Pomegranate Molasses
2 oz Vodka
¼ Cup Cooled Chai Tea (from one tea bag steeped in boiling water)
3 oz Ginger Beer
Pomegranate Seeds to Garnish
In a Collins glass, add pomegranate molasses, vodka, and chai tea. Mix, and then add crushed ice. Add mint leaves, but make sure to punch a couple down, so they are distributed evenly through the drink. Top off with ginger beer and pomegranate seeds. Stir gently, and encourage your guests to muddle the mint and seeds with their straws to release more flavor as they drink.
One of my favorite things about ginger beer is that it’s nonalcoholic, so you can make fun kiddy cocktails for your pint-sized guests! They will giggle all night about drinking beer. And if you throw a couple of pomegranate seeds in there too, they’ll flip!
There are many types of ginger beer. Which is your favorite? Tweet me at @NinosWineExpert!
– Jennifer Laurie