Several years ago, I got together with a few other food bloggers for lunch at a terrific diner in San Francisco. Lunch was fabulous, truly. One menu item that struck my fancy was homemade ginger ale, which they made fresh to order.
After lunch, on my way out the door, I stopped the waitress to ask how they made it. She gave me a general idea, which I have attempted to recreate in the steps shown here.
The diner version included a little touch of ground clove and cardamom if I recall correctly. I didn't add those spices, without them the ginger ale still turned out just great!
It's quite easy to make. You may need to adjust the proportions depending on how intense or sweet you want your drink.
What Is Ginger Ale?
Ginger ale is a carbonated, non-alcoholic beverage that can be traced back to 1850s Ireland. It's said that Irish apothecary Thomas Joseph Cantrell created the sweet, ginger-based drink in Belfast. A dryer, less sweet style of ginger ale was created in the early 1900s by Canadian pharmacist John J. McLaughlin. He patented the drink as Canada Dry Gingerale.
The basis of ginger ale is carbonated water, ginger, and sugar. The drink can be enjoyed on its own or as a mixer for alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Ginger ale is different from ginger beer, another ginger-based beverage. Traditionally, ginger beer was fermented and brewed, and it had a significant alcoholic content. Today's ginger beers can still be brewed, or are sometimes made with force carbonation, but they are generally non-alcoholic. They have a stronger flavor than ginger ale and are most commonly used in cocktails such as a Moscow Mule.
How Long Can You Store Homemade Ginger Ale?
Store the ginger water and the simple syrup in the refrigerator separately. The ginger water lasts 1 to 2 weeks. If the color or the odor of the water changes, discard it. The simple syrup should last up to 1 month.
The assembled ginger ale, a combination of the ginger water, simple syrup, and club soda, will last until the carbonation goes flat. It's best to combine the three immediately before serving.
More DIY Drinks That Taste Better Homemade
Homemade Ginger Ale
- Ginger Water
- 1 cup peeled, finely chopped ginger
- 2 cups water
- Simple Syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- To Serve
- Club soda
- Ice, optional
- Lime juice
- Lime wedges
Infuse the water with ginger:
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add ginger. Reduce heat to medium low and let ginger sit in the simmering water for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and let sit for 20 minutes. Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer. Discard ginger pieces.
Make the simple syrup:
In a separate saucepan, make the simple syrup by dissolving 1 cup granulated sugar into 1 cup of boiling water. Set aside.
Assemble the ginger ale:
Make individual (tall) glasses of ginger ale by mixing 1/2 cup of ginger water with 1/3 cup of Simple Syrup and 1/2 cup of club soda. Serve over ice, if you like. Add a few drops of fresh lime juice and a lime wedge to each glass.