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Ginger Beer & Ginger Ale


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#1 Joe Riley

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 01:02 PM

One of the simplest drinking pleasures for me is ginger beer, especially in a Dark & Stormy, but the most famous American drink with ginger beer is the Moscow Mule, invented at the Cock 'N Bull bar in Hollywood in the 1940's.

Another version of the story...

Once upon a time, say, back in the 1940s, vodka was little known in the United States, and gin reigned supreme as the clear spirit of choice. A gentleman by the name of John G. Martin, president of G.F. Hueblein Brothers, Inc., had a wild notion. He bought a vodka distiller, and acquired a vodka recipe that had belonged to a Russian family named Smirnov. Martin was sure everyone would love it.

Unfortunately, Martin was a man ahead of his time. Vodka wasn't a smash hit. In fact, he had a hard time giving the stuff away, and he hit the road on a sales trip. He made it to Hollywood, where he stopped at the Cock 'n' Bull for a bite to eat. He struck up a conversation with the owner, Jack Morgan, and learned that Morgan had a white elephant of his own, the ginger beer he made on the side.

The final ingredient in their marketing scheme involved a friend of Morgan's. She had inherited a copper factory, and had an abundance of copper cups to offload. They decided to sell and serve a new cocktail in one of the copper cups, engraved with the picture of a kicking mule.


Cock 'N Bull brand ginger beer is now available here, in bottles, and made with both corn syrup and cane sugar, but we are lucky to have several good ginger beer brands available to us:

Barritt's (Bermuda) - both in cans (HFCS) and bottles (cane sugar). There's even a diet Barritt's in bottles.
Regatta (Bermuda) - both in cans (cane sugar) and bottles (HFCS).
Fever Tree (U.K.) - bottles only, cane sugar.
Fentiman's (Pennsylvania, under license from the U.K.) - bottles only, cane sugar.
Reed's Extra Ginger Brew - bottles only, (fructose, pineapple juice, honey)
Gosling's - cans only, (HFCS)

Dark & Stormy and Moscow Mule fans have much to play with. What are some of your favorites?

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#2 winger1930

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 02:20 PM

Barritt's (Bermuda) - both in cans (HFCS) and bottles (cane sugar). There's even a diet Barritt's in bottles.
Regatta (Bermuda) - both in cans (cane sugar) and bottles (HFCS).
Fever Tree (U.K.) - bottles only, cane sugar.
Fentiman's (Pennsylvania, under license from the U.K.) - bottles only, cane sugar.
Reed's Extra Ginger Brew - bottles only, (fructose, pineapple juice, honey)
Gosling's - cans only, (HFCS)

Dark & Stormy and Moscow Mule fans have much to play with. What are some of your favorites?

I love a Dark & Stormy with Barritts, although I've not had it in bottle, only in cans. I'd love to get my hands on it in bottles to have it with cane sugar.

Upon further research (your Moscow Mule story made me want to dig a little about the Dark 'N' Stormy (apparently that's the Gosling's way to spell it to - go figure)), turns out the Goslings folks have a trademark on the drink itself.

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare famously asked. In the case of the Dark ‘n’ Stormy, a Bermudan cocktail that’s been making a quiet resurgence in New York City bars and restaurants in the last couple of years, it’s two ounces of Gosling’s Black Seal rum and a fizzy hit of ginger beer.

And, by law, nothing but.

That’s according to two trademark certificates on file with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which — in an exceptionally rare instance in the cocktail world — dictate the precise ingredients and amounts required to call a Dark ‘n’ Stormy, well, a Dark ‘n’ Stormy.

“We defend that trademark vigorously, which is a very time-consuming and expensive thing,” said E. Malcolm Gosling Jr., whose family has owned Gosling’s since its founding in Bermuda in 1806. “That’s a valuable asset that we need to protect.”

Now, the way that I like to have a Dark & Stormy (so as not misrepresent the Dark 'N' Stormy) is with Gosling's Black Seal rum, Barritts Ginger Beer, lime, and a splash of bitters. I like the citrus and spice from the bitters to really turn up the dial on the ginger beer. That's the way I had it at the Beach Bar in St. John, and that's how I'll always like mine, no matter what Mr. Gosling has to say about it. As long as I don’t use the ‘N’, I should be fine legally to enjoy one that way tonight.

-Paul


#3 Choirgirl21

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 02:55 PM

I made this asian twist on the Moscow mule, the Beijing mule, for an asian themed dinner club recently and enjoyed it. I subbed lemon juice b/c I couldn't find yuzu juice and used Barritt's in the cans. I'm happy to hear that the bottled version has cane sugar as I really prefer not to have anything with HFCS in it and I found it so delicious that I couldn't stop myself from consuming the remaining cans almost immediately. :lol: I did make one dark 'n stormy, but was without lime - I think I would have preferred it with a touch of lime, but it was still delicious.

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#4 ol_ironstomach

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 03:03 PM

I don't understand how Joe could have overlooked mentioning the legendary Blenheim "old #3 hot" Ginger Ale, particularly as he is now able to stock it regularly! No longer will I have to detour through the Carolinas in search of cases of this elixir, a key ingredient in the greatest highball ever.

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#5 TedE

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 03:11 PM

Fentiman's (Pennsylvania, under license from the U.K.) - bottles only, cane sugar.

I was excited to see Fentiman's show up in the Dark & Stormy's at Bar Pilar. Good to know that it's being contract brewed in theStates now, I thought Pilar had stumbled on some stash.

I don't understand how Joe could have overlooked mentioning the legendary Blenheim "old #3 hot" Ginger Ale

Perhaps because that is ginger ale, not ginger beer :lol:

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#6 Joe Riley

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Posted 16 May 2010 - 08:35 PM

Upon further research (your Moscow Mule story made me want to dig a little about the Dark 'N' Stormy (apparently that's the Gosling's way to spell it to - go figure)), turns out the Goslings folks have a trademark on the drink itself. Now, the way that I like to have a Dark & Stormy (so as not misrepresent the Dark 'N' Stormy)

Oh, I'm all too familiar with the Gosling company's trademark, so yes, I too deliberately use "Dark & Stormy", and let's face it, the drink long pre-existed the Gosling company's trademark, but they're determined to keep anyone else from profiting off of it. :lol:

I deliberately left out Gosling's "Dark 'N Stormy" ginger beer off the list because it isn't very good. It's not awful, but it does lack a nice ginger snap and bite that defines a good ginger beer.

One cute variation that I've heard is at Boston's Highland Kitchen, is the "Mark 'N Stormy", made with Maker's Mark Bourbon and chili-infused ginger beer.

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#7 lperry

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 03:55 PM

Has anyone seen Barritt's in NOVA? I have come into possession of a bottle of Gosling's Black Seal, and I want to try a "real" Dark & Stormy.

Edited to answer my own question. :) Total Wine et al.

#8 JeffC

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Posted 04 July 2010 - 05:18 PM

I don't understand how Joe could have overlooked mentioning the legendary Blenheim "old #3 hot" Ginger Ale, particularly as he is now able to stock it regularly! No longer will I have to detour through the Carolinas in search of cases of this elixir, a key ingredient in the greatest highball ever.

Posted Image

Since moving to South Carolina, a constant supply of Blenheim is one of the real perks. We keep two kinds around--Old #3 Hot for the occasional treat, and the diet Blenheim for daily consumption. I can say without reservation that diet Blenheim is the finest diet soda I've ever tasted. Nothing even comes close. I don't know if Joe stocks it, but if you ever get a chance, give it a try.

#9 zoramargolis

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 09:26 AM

I can say without reservation that diet Blenheim is the finest diet soda I've ever tasted. Nothing even comes close. I don't know if Joe stocks it, but if you ever get a chance, give it a try.

I'd like to try it, because I love ginger beer but must limit sugar intake. I hope I like it better than Barritt's diet ginger beer, which is one of the more ghastly diet sodas I've ever tasted. I bought a four-pack, and didn't make it past a few sips of the first bottle.

#10 lperry

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 05:49 PM

I was in World Market and picked up some Bundaberg ginger beer from Australia, mainly because it is sweetened with cane sugar and has bits of ginger visible in the bottle. This one is pretty good, although I wouldn't mind a harsher ginger bite. I mixed it with some Gosling's Black Seal and ended up using a pretty hefty squeeze of lime to cut the sweetness, but overall, it made a pretty enjoyable drink on a very hot day.

#11 SeanMike

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 10:37 AM

I've found that I like the diet Bundaberg perhaps the most of various diet ginger beers.

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#12 lperry

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Posted 15 July 2010 - 05:11 PM

Mixing Gosling's with Reed's extra ginger brew tonight. I'm not sure what the "extra" is, but it isn't "extra" ginger. Weak ginger flavor, hints of other tropical fruits, but not enough to really go anywhere over the Gosling's, and a watery finish. This might mix nicely with the Flor de Caņa 4 year gold I have in there, but the Gosling's overpowers it. So an OK tropical tasting drink, but not a good Dark and Stormy.

#13 SeanMike

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 04:11 PM

So I found some Appalachian Brewing Co. (Harrisburg, PA) Ginger Beer at Westover Market today. Can't tell you the price - they didn't have it marked, the cashier didn't know, so eventually he just charged me $4.99 for the four pack.

It lists pure cane sugar and honey in it, though it also has "natural and artificial flavors". It's got a little bit of heat, but not a lot, so it'll probably be good in that regard for people who prefer the less spicy ones. On the other hand, it has what I'm picking up as a citrus taste to it, which is very interesting. I grabbed some Coruba and made a mini-dark and stormy...

Boy, that was nice.

I'd love to hear what other people think.

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#14 Joe Riley

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Posted 22 December 2010 - 09:43 PM

For what it's worth, I read an article today that cautions against using diet versions of sodas or mixers, as sugar helps your body to metabolize alcohol, whereas artificial sweeteners do not.

I'm no science whiz, but I have no reason to doubt the veracity of that statement, so perhaps diet ginger beers (and ales) ought to be used in these alcoholic drinks with an added measure of caution? If anyone with a greater understanding of beverage science can comment on this, I'd be interested in reading about it.

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#15 ol_ironstomach

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 08:19 PM

In the British products aisle: Idris "Fiery" Ginger Beer. Moderately sweet, with a nice strong ginger bite, but not "hot" in the Blenheim sense. Overall rather similar to DG Jamaican ginger beer...except that DG is considerably cheaper, and significantly so in the 2 liter format.

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#16 RaisaB

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 11:26 PM

Is Blenheim available in our area? I have been making my own ginger beer...but Blenheim is my favorite.

#17 SeanMike

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 06:50 PM

Is Blenheim available in our area? I have been making my own ginger beer...but Blenheim is my favorite.

Ace Beverage carries Blenheim. I bought more just last week there...

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#18 DameEdna

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 09:17 PM

Are commercial ginger beer and ginger ale made with ginger? Or maybe made with imitation wasabi and other assorted flavor elements? I would think this would not be high on the list for imitation flavor designers. Could be wrong.

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#19 ol_ironstomach

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 02:52 AM

Everything mentioned in this thread so far is made with real ginger, typically from a concentrated extract from Australia and other large ginger-producing regions. I'm less certain about the megaconglomerate brands; Canada Dry claims to use only natural ginger for flavor. I'm pretty sure Goya is real ginger. Not certain about Vernor's.

A couple of years back, I progressively dragged in every ginger beer / ginger ale I could get my hands on, and tasted them with Joe and Derek and Jake and others, so we could categorize them. Well, almost every one - I skipped the regular (gold cap) and diet Blenheim. And I think SeanMike brought in the Bundaberg, which I'd already tried thanks to World Market. My go-to is Blenheim red; I laid in a personal supply of more than a few cases while driving back through South Carolina last year. If you can't get Blenheim - and really, we should all thank Joe for stocking this elixir locally - the Goya is as close a substitute as you'll find.

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#20 DameEdna

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 05:05 PM

. My go-to is Blenheim red; I laid in a personal supply of more than a few cases while driving back through South Carolina last year. If you can't get Blenheim - and really, we should all thank Joe for stocking this elixir locally - the Goya is as close a substitute as you'll find.

For years, police patrolling the I-95 corridor knew that a car noticeably weighted down in back, driver wearing a sombrero, "South of the Border" sticker on bumper was not smuggling drugs but scoring some Blenheim. (No triple spacing, yeah!).

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#21 MsDiPesto

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 01:25 PM

I'm pretty sure Goya is real ginger.

Goya Ginger Beer ingredients: Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup 55, Ginger Flavorings, Oil of Ginger, Caramel Color, Capsicum, Citric Acid.

Goya's bite comes primarily from the Capsicum.

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#22 kmm

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 05:59 PM

northern neck ginger ale is seriously good!

#23 Joe Riley

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 01:04 PM

northern neck ginger ale is seriously good!

Oh, it's been a while, but yeah, I always used to pick some of that up either on my way to, or on my way back, from the Irvington, Virginia area. :) Good stuff indeed.

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#24 agm

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 11:11 AM

The snack shop in my building recently began carrying "Fresh Ginger, Ginger Ale by Bruce Cost." Ingredients: Carbonated water, pure cane sugar, 100% fresh ginger, and citric acid. The ginger in this stuff settles to the bottom, and it needs a gentle shake to mix it properly. I'd prefer a little less sweet, and little more heat, but it's the real deal. There is also some slight variation between bottles; I can probably get closer to what I'm looking for just by choosing a bottle with more ginger solids (solid being a loose term - I can see chunks but they're barely detectable when drinking). The photo should show the difference between the clear liquid at the top, and the ginger solids below the label.

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#25 ol_ironstomach

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 05:01 PM

Goya Ginger Beer ingredients: Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup 55, Ginger Flavorings, Oil of Ginger, Caramel Color, Capsicum, Citric Acid.

Goya's bite comes primarily from the Capsicum.

As does Blenheim's. Thanks for looking that up...I wonder why "oil of ginger" is distinct from "ginger flavorings"?

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#26 synaesthesia

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 05:32 PM

As does Blenheim's. Thanks for looking that up...I wonder why "oil of ginger" is distinct from "ginger flavorings"?

My guess oil of ginger is actually derived from ginger. Ginger flavorings are probably manufactured flavors. In the same way that natural flavors are still manufactured, but chemicals are from nature.
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#27 goodeats

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 12:50 AM

The snack shop in my building recently began carrying "Fresh Ginger, Ginger Ale by Bruce Cost." Ingredients: Carbonated water, pure cane sugar, 100% fresh ginger, and citric acid. The ginger in this stuff settles to the bottom, and it needs a gentle shake to mix it properly.

This was a great find, agm! I splurged on a bottle ($2.59) at Metro Cafe off of the Virginia Square metro and it was worth it (the every once in awhile splurge) to settle my stomach down a bit. Has anyone seen it on a grocery store shelf yet?

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#28 tonyb

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 04:46 PM

The snack shop in my building recently began carrying "Fresh Ginger, Ginger Ale by Bruce Cost." Ingredients: Carbonated water, pure cane sugar, 100% fresh ginger, and citric acid. The ginger in this stuff settles to the bottom, and it needs a gentle shake to mix it properly. I'd prefer a little less sweet, and little more heat, but it's the real deal. There is also some slight variation between bottles; I can probably get closer to what I'm looking for just by choosing a bottle with more ginger solids (solid being a loose term - I can see chunks but they're barely detectable when drinking). The photo should show the difference between the clear liquid at the top, and the ginger solids below the label.

Posted Image


I had this in December at G Street food and agree it is very interesting; I liked it. I did a search at that time and couldn't find it in the DC area (plenty of places in NYC). Recommened pairing: Cubano (optional - ask for packets of hot sauce under the counter at the register).

#29 laniloa

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 10:16 PM

They carry three flavors of this (blanking on what the two besides original are) in the little convenience market across from Starbucks in the plaza at Court House metro.

#30 SeanMike

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 06:50 PM

My building in Courthouse (1320 N. Veitch) also has two flavors of it - regular and pomegranate with hibiscus. $2.49 or $2.59 a bottle there.

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