Saturday, September 25, 2010

Gingered Up

I've always loved ginger-y food and drinks, and I think the world is catching on.  Ginger is refreshing and zesty - sometimes even spicy.  Ginger ale is an in-flight favorite, and gingersnap cookies (or, molasses crinkles, if you rather) have been putting smiles on the faces of grandmas and grandkids for ages.  I'm still developing a taste for the pickled slices that accompany sushi, but when I was in college, we occasionally concocted an elementary potion of gin and ginger ale.  We dubbed it "gin & gin" or "the double gin" or something like that.  Whatever we called it, it was delicious.  Like a lot of college-kid cocktails, the sweet ginger ale cloaked the booze flavor, increasing its drinkability.  Maybe we were before our time, because lately ginger is making a big statement in cocktails all over the place, it seems.

Take for example the Local's signature cocktail, "The Big Ginger".  I recently enjoyed this drink at happy hour and was very pleased - it had a just-right mix of warm whiskey flavor and ginger beer fizz.  I especially liked having wedges of both lime and lemon to squeeze into it.  They also offer a diet version dubbed "The Skinny Ginger". 

Then, I learned of the Pimm's Cup, thanks to Orangette.  After following Molly's blog and reading her book A Homemade Life, I have come to trust her recommendations.  When she said the Pimm's Cup was a gin-based drink, I was definitely intrigued.  When I went to the Craftsman and saw it on the menu, I took a chance.  It was delicious!  Sort of strange and different - darker than I thought it would be, and with floating bits of cucumber in the glass.  I really liked it.  I thought it seemed easy enough to make at home, and like a good summer cocktail.  Once I got a hold of a bottle of Pimms No. 1, though, I was a bit confused - the liquid was dark and smelled a bit like Jagermeister - not like gin at all.  And the label described it as a liqueur, which although surprising seemed fitting, considering its sweet-ish and syrupy quality.  But whatever it is or was expected to be, it was great mixed with quality ginger beer (also a new experience) and a bit of garden-fresh cucumber, over ice.       
The Longfellow Grill, one of my longtime favorite happy hour spots, recently featured a cocktail with a piece of candied ginger speared over the top of the glass.  I never did order the drink (it has since been removed from the menu), but my bartender friend once slipped me a piece to taste.  I loved it!  Perhaps candied ginger will pave the way to the next phase of ginger love.  

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