Ginger Plant, Zingiberaceae Family
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Apr 24 2020 / Richard Thompson

Gin and Ginger: a 21st Century Fairy Tale

The combination of gin and ginger goes back a long way. Ginger has been used as a tonic root to treat medical conditions and ailments for thousands of years. Here in the 21st century, gin and ginger ale is one of our favourite tipples. Now, we’re explaining how gin and ginger recipes first came about.

Ginger pairs very well with gin, adding a complexity and depth of flavour that creates a pleasant taste sensation. We love how the heat of hand-crushed ginger complements and enhances the other botanicals in Sing Gin.

But why do we drink gin with ginger ale? What are the best gin and ginger cocktail recipes? Read on to find out.

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What is ginger?

Harvested Ginger Root

Ginger is one of the world’s oldest spices. As a herbaceous perennial, ginger is a member of the Zingiberaceae family (which includes other common spices used in gin production, such as cardamom and galangal).

Growing one-meter in height with narrow leafy stems, the ginger plant produces bunches of radiant white and pink flower buds, which bloom into attractive yellow flowers. It’s the root us craftspeople are interested in though! Ginger root has been used to flavour beer since the Middles Ages.

Having been an integral ingredient in Chinese medicine since time began, ginger arrived in Europe on the earliest trading routes. And so the love affair began…

These days, China, India, Indonesia and Nigeria are the countries that produce the most ginger.

 

How did gin meet ginger?

The first whisperings we could find of spirits being paired with ginger was in 1715 – 1716. It was a freezing cold winter in England, so cold that the Thames froze over. A tent appeared on the ice selling drinks made with jenever, (the Dutch word for juniper, which all gins need). Next to it, up popped a tent where Londoners could buy a comforting slice of gingerbread to fill their bellies.

The two tasty treats soon became synonymous with one another and by the 1730s, the cries of gin and ginger vendors could be heard all over London.

 

How gin and ginger cocktails arrived in the UK

Ginger beer was invented right here in our home county of Yorkshire, England! Canadian pharmacist John McLaughlin created it while on a mission to produce “The Champagne of Ginger Ales” in 1907 using water, sugar, ginger, lemon, and yeast.

John began producing McLaughlin Belfast Style Ginger Ale in 1890 at a carbonated water plant in Toronto. Following a successful launch, John decided to improve the recipe by darkening the colour and enhancing the sharp taste – and so the “Canada Dry” Pale Ginger Ale was born and trademarked on May 16th 1922.

There’s also Belfast style ginger ale, which is a heavier, sweeter liquid that dates back to 19th century Northern Ireland.

Ginger ale is a carbonated, sweetened soft drink flavoured with ginger (unlike ginger beer, which is produced by the fermentation of ginger with yeast and sugar). It’s usually clear and golden in colour, whereas ginger beer is often cloudy because of the fermentation process. Other flavourings are sometimes used in ginger ale, such as lemon, lime or other spices.

As people realised how versatile and tasty gin was when mixed with spirits, ginger ale cocktails soared in popularity.

As you can imagine, we were thrilled to find out that our Yorkshire home had a small part to play in the creation of the delicious ginger cocktail, especially because it’s so delicious when mixed with Sing Gin!

 

Why does gin and ginger taste so good?

So, are gin and ginger ale a winning combination? Yes!

Ginger has a spicy kick due to the presence of the chemical compound gingerol, which is related to the chemicals that give black pepper and chilli pepper their heat. Candied, crystallised, dried, fresh, ground or powdered: ginger root is a versatile and loveable spice!

Let us look at the attractive résumé the spice has to offer:

  • Ginger has been used as a flavouring agent for thousands of years in confectionary and beers.
  • Its exotic aroma is due to the subtle hints of sweetness and pepper, which combine to create a vibrant attitude.
  • As a soft drink or a mixer for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, ginger is a versatile ingredient.
  • Ginger forms the foundation for drinks such as ginger ale, beer and cocktails such as Gin Buck and Sing’s Ginger Brew.
  • The ancient spice can be found in vermouths, bitters and herbal liqueurs.
  • Ginger root is a common botanical used in gin production due to its familiar and cosy scent. In gin production, the spice imparts a sweet, peppery flavour with a delicate touch of warmth and freshness to the spirit.

When sipped straight, the ginger in our small-batch gin sings. Read our guide to drinking gin neat to have the best possible experience.

By mixing Sing Gin, a gin which uses ginger as one of its key botanicals, with ginger ale, you’re amping up that flavour. In short, gin and ginger really is a match made in heaven!

You can read more about the botanicals in Sing Gin if this interests you.

 

Our favourite gin and ginger cocktail recipes

 

Sing Gin Mule

The Gin Mule is a re-take on the Moscow Mule. It hails from New York and is a wonderfully refreshing summer cocktail. The addition of mint cools the heat from the spice.

Recipe

Muddle a handful of mint leaves. Add 50ml Sing Gin, ice, 15ml sugar syrup and 15ml lime juice. Shake. Fine strain into a rocks glass and top with 25ml ginger beer, stirring carefully. Garnish with a mint leaf.

 

Sing Gin Buck

This is a semi-sweet, straightforward gin and ginger cocktail that’s universally loved.

Recipe

Combine 50ml Sing Gin, 100ml ginger ale and 25ml fresh lemon juice in an ice-filled highball glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

 

Sing Fizz

Sing Fizz ginger gin cocktail

Henry C. Ramos invented the Ramos gin fizz in 1888 at his bar in New Orleans, Louisiana. We like to think he’d approve of our Yorkshire version!

Recipe

Shake and fine strain 35ml Sing Gin, 15ml lemon juice, 10ml ginger syrup, 5 mint leaves. Top with sparkling wine.

 

Sing’s Ginger Brew

Sing's Ginger Brew cocktail

This unique cocktail is our recreation of a relatively unknown but vintage cocktail called the ‘Purl’. It’s a winter warmer incorporating spices and herbs with malty beer, bitter wormwood and gin.

This is our Yorkshire twist on this cocktail hence the use of the word ‘Brew’. We serve this one cold, though the Purl is usually served warm. The citrus and pungent notes of the ginger really kick through and the recipe is a results of many fun experiments into how the ingredients combine and what spices best complement the beer and gin.

Recipe

Mix 30ml Sing Gin, 30ml lemon Juice, 30ml ginger syrup, and top with London Pride Ale.

 

Take a look at our Cocktails page for more recipe inspiration

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Gin and ginger: the best cocktail recipes