by Julia Thiel
It sounded great but didn't include a recipe for the syrup, so I did another search and came across this recipe from Imbibe. Being my mother's daughter, I also decided to look up a few more recipes for comparison and discovered endless variations. Some recipes called for peeling the ginger while others left it unpeeled. Some had you simmer the mixture for an hour or more; others called for adding boiling water to the ginger and water and then letting it sit. And the proportions of water to sugar to ginger varied wildly. All of the processes, though, were somewhat similar the one I'd used to make ginger beer last summer (except without the addition of lemon juice and yeast). It seemed like something that would be difficult to screw up too much.
I ended up making the first recipe I'd found—sort of. It called for two cups of ginger, processed in a blender or food processor and then cooked for about an hour with six cups of water and two cups of sugar. It seemed like it'd make a lot more syrup than I wanted, so I cut the water to about two cups, figuring that a more concentrated version would take up less room in the refrigerator. I also made it less sweet by adding only a half a cup of sugar (actually, I substituted honey), which created more of a ginger infusion than a syrup. It's easy to add a little simple syrup where needed, and I like the less-sweet ginger syrup mixed with sparkling water for a drink with a little bite.
I made not only the first cocktail recipe I'd come across, but also one that was linked from the ginger syrup recipe I used, called the Sleepyhead—it used similar ingredients, but with the addition of orange slices, and brandy instead of cachaca (I didn't have ginger ale, so I topped it off with sparkling water). I used a couple tablespoons of ginger syrup and a dash of simple syrup in both, and they came out fine. I'd been wanting to make a whiskey smash ever since trying Sable's excellent version a couple weeks ago, so that was the last cocktail of the evening. I loosely followed a recipe I found online, and the end result was pretty good. Tasting it, though, I thought it would probably be better with a little ginger syrup. As it turned out, it was.