The Root of Great Cocktails

The Root of Great Cocktails

Whether it’s candied, grated, simmered or even smoked ginger is a hot trend behind the bar right now. Used for centuries in the kitchen (most notably in Asian cuisine), it’s certainly not a new ingredient in the glass, either, and is indispensable in classic drinks like the Dark and Stormy and El Diablo. Ginger’s distinctive yet approachable essence pairs so well with a wide variety of cocktail elements, making it a favorite among serious imbibers. Here are three ways to shake up some gingered inspiration.

SKYY Infusions Ginger

Reminiscent of the zesty kick in fizzy ginger ale, this ginger-infused vodka also has layered notes of roasted oranges and mild cinnamon. SKYY Spirits representative Andrea Conzonato predicts that ginger will surpass mint as the go-to ingredient on the back bar. “Ginger is one of the hottest ingredients in food and drink in the world today,” she says. “It’s an incredibly versatile flavor that can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways—from sweet, to savory, to spicy.” Mix SKYY Infusions Ginger with fresh citrus juices, soda water or cola, or use it in your favorite sour recipe—like a Ginger Minx cocktail. This bitey sip is fresh and citrus-y, with just a touch of honeyed sweetness and a tinge of bitterness from the Peychaud’s.



Ginger Minx
Courtesy of SKYY Spirits

2 oz. SKYY Infusions Ginger
1 oz. fresh lime juice
¾ oz. Cointreau
½ oz. fresh grapefruit juice
½ oz. honey syrup (see Note)
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Grapefruit twist, for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously, and pour contents into a chilled rocks glass. Garnish with a twist of grapefruit.

Note: To make honey syrup, combine equal parts honey and water. Stir to dissolve.

Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur

When this Cognac—and baby Vietnamese ginger—based French liqueur burst onto the scene a few years back, it was the absolute buzz of the cocktail community. It’s rich, deep, fresh ginger flavor is a surefire favorite with bartenders and cocktailians alike. “For a long time the average consumer was satisfied with bland and ordinary flavors like Wonder Bread, traditional light-styled beer, and run-of-the-mill coffees and teas,” notes Domaine de Canton Brand Ambassador Phil Greene. “People today are looking for bolder flavors, higher quality and fresher ingredients”—like the can’t-be-ignored-taste of ginger. He finds the liqueur extremely mix-able, substituting it for simple syrup in the Daiquiri or Mojito, and for half the sweet Vermouth in a Rob Roy. Greene’s complex, vodka-based Cook Straight Sling uses two kinds of bitters, and gets its fruity sweetness from Cherry Heering liqueur.

Cook Straight Sling
Courtesy of Phil Greene, Brand Ambassador, Domaine de Canton

1 ½ oz. vodka (Greene recommends 42 Below)
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
½ oz. Cherry Heering Liqueur
¾ oz. Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes orange bitters
Seltzer water

Add all ingredients except seltzer water to a cocktail shaker filled with ice, and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled highball glass filled with ice. Add two ounces seltzer water to shaker, swirl it around the ice, and then strain seltzer into glass, topping off the cocktail.

Ginger Infused Syrup

Bobby Heugel, owner of Anvil Bar & Refuge in Houston, points out that both classic drinks as well as contemporary creations like Audrey Saunders’ Gin Gin Mule have solidified ginger’s presence in the modern cocktail community. He notes that ginger syrup can easily substitute for simple syrup in cocktails, adding sweetness and flavor without an additional alcohol component. Appealing in cocktails with lemon or lime juice like Sours and Collins, ginger syrup’s potency is tamed a bit when used in a libation with the cooling effect of mint—like Heugel’s invigorating Rollercoaster.

Courtesy of Bobby Heugel, Owner, Anvil Bar & Refuge, Houston, TX

2 oz. gin
1 oz. fresh lime juice
¾ ginger syrup**
8-10 mint leaves
Sprig of mint, for garnish

Muddle the mint leaves and ginger syrup in the base of a mixing glass or tin. Combine other ingredients except garnish in the glass or tin. Add ice and shake vigorously. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

**Ginger Infused Syrup
3 cups water
1 cup peeled and chopped ginger
2 cups sugar

Combine all ingredients in a pot set on medium-high heat. Stir occasionally, allow the syrup to boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. Reduce by one cup of liquid. Remove pot from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Strain out the ginger and place in a bottle or container with a tightly fitting lid. The syrup will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator, but ginger flavors are best when served closest to preparation.

Kelly Magyarics is a wine and spirits writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, DC area. She can be reached through her website,, or on

Published on April 19, 2010
Topics: Cocktail Recipes