I’ve got a sore throat and very little motivation. This is winter livin’.
Today, we are whipping up a winter tonic that warms, brightens, and cheers in the most wonderful way.
This ginger ale is not just any ginger ale. It accidentally stole all of the attention from my hot chocolate bar at our Christmas party. It is just that good.
It begins with a heavy-handed dose of fresh ginger. Pick up a big old hand of ginger and find your cheese grater - no peeling required.
With the help of a little sugar and a splash of water, this will form a spicy, ginger syrup which will act as the base for our fancy soda.
While the ginger steeps, we make a second syrup
Yes, two syrups, but I promise, the work ends there, and this lovely glass of winter relief is worth every bit of effort.
A floral vanilla bean will meet with lime zest, sugar, and water to form a second syrup that will really take our sparkling soda over the top. The vanilla adds those soft, sweet, floral flavors I relish so much this time of year, and the lime zest will add a little extra pop of acidity.
The two syrups collide, joining fresh lime juice and sparkling water.
Serve over crushed ice and toast to your favorite and warmest blanket.
Somehow, this lovely little spritzer has comforting powers which nearly top those of hot chocolate.
A glass of winter.
VANILLA-LIME GINGER ALE
FOR THE GINGER SYRUP
3/4 cup fresh, coarsely grated ginger, skin left on
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup filtered water
Combine fresh ginger, sugar, and water in a heavy-bottomed, 2-quart saucepan.
Set the saucepan over medium high heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the syrup to a heavy simmer, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer steadily for 5 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
While the ginger syrup cools, prepare the vanilla-lime syrup.
After the syrup has cooled, strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing the grated ginger to release all of the flavor. Set aside.
FOR THE VANILLA-LIME SYRUP
1 Madagascar vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 tablespoons lime zest
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup filtered water
Use a fork to press the lime zest, split vanilla bean, and its contents into the granulated sugar. Pour the infused sugar into a heavy-bottomed, 2-quart saucepan and cover with water.
Place the pan over medium high heat and whisk until all of the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a simmer and simmer for one minute, then remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
After the syrup has cooled to room temperature, remove the vanilla bean from the pan and combine with the prepared ginger syrup.
FOR THE GINGER ALE
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, strained to remove pulp
1 liter sparkling water, chilled
Pour the prepared syrups into a large pitcher and stir in the fresh lime juice and sparkling water. Stir well, so that all components are well incorporated. Serve over ice and enjoy immediately!
Cook’s Note: If you prefer a more subtle ginger flavor, rather than a more robust spice, feel free to only add half of the ginger syrup, or adjust to taste. I myself, love a bit of spice in ginger ale, so this recipe will make a reasonably strong soda.
Cook’s Note: Alternatively, you can combine everything but the sparkling water, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to serve. Then, stir in sparkling water just before serving! This is a great make-ahead mocktail for parties!