Ginger is the earthy, spicy flavor that’s essential for many cocktails, like the Moscow Mule or Dark and Stormy. This flavor is often added to drinks in the form of non-alcoholic ginger ale or ginger beer. But there are other options that give your drink that ginger kick, with an added punch of alcohol–enter ginger liqueurs.
“You want to have ginger liqueur in your bar because it will expand the range of cocktails you can make tremendously and spice up your cocktail game—pun, intended,” says Josh Morton, founder of Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur, based in Brooklyn, New York.
Interested in experimenting with the flavorful root? Here’s everything you need to know about ginger liqueurs.
What Is Ginger?
Before we get to ginger liqueurs, let’s start with the flavor itself. Ginger comes from the Zingiber officinale plant that’s native to Asia and has leafy stems and yellowish-green flowers. The rhizome, or the ginger root, is what’s most commonly used as the spice. It can be purchased in the fresh form as the full root or as a dried, powdered form.
For centuries, ginger has been used for medicinal purposes, especially for relieving gastrointestinal issues, like nausea and bloating. It is also thought to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Today, ginger adds flavor to tea, candy, gingerbread and is an essential ingredient in many dishes and drinks.
What Is a Ginger Liqueur?
Liqueur is a spirit that has additional sweetness or spiciness added to its base alcohol. Ginger liqueurs are flavored with spice, but the exact processes, base spirits and sweetness levels vary by brand.
For instance, Barrow’s, which debuted in 2013, uses a blend of Peruvian and Hawaiian ginger, says Morton. The ginger is chopped up and left to macerate at room temperature in a 190-proof neutral cane spirit for at least a month. The mix is pressed to remove the liquid and the infused liquor is blended with a lower-sugar simple syrup. Then, it undergoes a racking process, like wine.
The result is a 22% alcohol-by-volume (abv) liqueur with a cloudy appearance, due to the product not being strained, says Morton.
Another spirit, The King’s Ginger, has evolved from a 1903 recipe created for King Edward VII of England. It’s made from a neutral-based grain spirit, ginger, lemon oil, sugar and Scotch.