WORLD FAMOUS GINGER ALE
Options for non-drinkers at parties can be pretty bleak – best case scenario is usually cranberry juice, and if you're lucky, some grapefruit juice to mix with it. To my knowledge a bottle of Canada Dry has never generated much excitement.
I'm a big proponent of mocktails. Every time I whip up a batch of homemade ginger ale everyone has a glass, even the booze hounds who want a taste before they move on to harder spirits.
Hence the "World Famous" moniker — maybe not globally famous yet, but surely famous in my small world.
Mom sent me this recipe years ago, though she has no memory of it. It was probably from one of her book club meetings. Her group has been meeting for more than 30 years and each host prepares refreshments in the theme of that particular selection. That's a lot of meetings, a lot of menus, so no surprise this tasty beverage faded from memory. But it was special enough at the time to merit writing down and popping in the mail.
This recipe couldn't be easier.
Peel fresh ginger to expose as much of the juicy insides as possible, dice, bring to a boil in a simple syrup, let steep, strain, and mix the ginger syrup with seltzer.
I've found the following proportions to give a pronounced ginger flavor with a pleasant kick:
Bring to a boil and let steep at least four hours. The longer the better, even overnight.
To serve, mix 3/4 c. of the ginger syrup with 1 ltr. of seltzer. I usually do this in the kitchen so el cheapo seltzer is fine; if you're going to go fancy and put the syrup out with seltzer for custom mixing, you might opt for a fancier sparkling water like Pelligrino. Your call.
A stalk of rosemary makes a nice garnish, and if you've got it, a slice of candied ginger makes a truly festive presentation.
Most folks find the kick of ginger sufficiently spicy. But others (myself included) appreciate a bit more heat. In which case, a sliced fresh jalapeño (not pickled!) added to the syrup rachets up the proceedings.
One last thing — I did a batch with the ginger steeped in hot water, then sweetened with Truvia. Very nice.
Good year 'round, but especially nice in summer. What are you waiting for?