Sunday, July 8, 2012

Recipe: Whiskey and Ginger Beer

I really battled with the title of this post cause strictly speaking, I am talking about the whiskey family - Rye and Bourbon but whatever. A friend asked me last year if she could do a post on Rye and Ginger. She believed that she had found the perfect ginger ale to go with a perfect whiskey. So, while I am still waiting for that post, we had tried her entry which was Gentleman Jack, a bourbon and Sussex Golden ginger ale from east coast Canada.  I have the leftovers, soooo...

The idea behind this test and drink was to try a dry ginger ale and a traditional ginger ale with bourbon and then try that with an equivalent in ginger beer, actual beer.

Entrants: Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Sussex Golden Ginger Ale, Phillips Ginger Beer, and Crabbie's Ginger Beer.  These were mixed with Gentleman Jack.

Method: A measure of Jack were poured into an old fashioned with chilled entrants. These were tasted and notated.  Then another two measures were added to bring the total to three to one (more or less).  These were then tasted and notated.

Results: Canada Dry, although designed to be a mixer did not fare well with the Jack.  It could be because this is a more mellow and well rounded bourbon that doesn't love the harshness of Canada Dry.  The dark spicy sweetness of Sussex Golden worked well at the three to one mix but didn't seem to do well at the one to one.  Now, mixing the bourbon with the beer was revelatory.

I like me some spicy non-alcoholic ginger beer.  My favourite is the Golden Cockerel Old English Ginger Beer which can be hard to find in Toronto. It is sweet and spicy, more aligned with the Sussex, in terms of flavour profile.  Crabbie's also shared this profile.  It is like drinking a sweet ginger ale.  It goes down smooth.  Unfortunately, at the stronger 1:1 ratio, it the whole drink is too sweet.  At the higher ratio, it tastes like ginger pop and you hardly notice the accents of vanilla or bourbon.  This is a problem.  You could get really zonked on this.  It was enjoyable but did overpower Jack.  It may work with a more prominent Canadian whiskey or harsher bourbon. Hell, beer haters might even like this version.

Phillip's Ginger Beer is more subtle. There is little to no sweetness. The dominant flavour is malt followed with a ginger bite. It is definitely a beer. Because of its subtleness, it would be a great beer for food pairing over Crabbie's. It worked really well at the more alcoholic ratios. The beer notes ran alongside the Jack to win this Kentucky Derby. (Sorry, that was horrible but the drink was good, as long as you like bourbon).  It makes me wonder if Canada Dry has altered its recipe so much that it no longer is as dry as this beer.

I would drink either of these cocktails.  If I was looking for something to go down quickly and didn't have to work the next day, I would do the Crabbie's. It would also work with a more distinct and prominent whiskey or bourbon. If I was looking for a sipping drink to go with food then I would do the Phillip's with a more nuanced bourbon or high end Canadian whiskey.


  1. Hey, just curious as to where you bought your ginger beer.. I'm having a hard time finding it in toronto!

  2. I was getting it at the LCBO at Summerhill but I am finding the Crabbie's hard to find now. Yesterday there was a bunch of Phillips on the shelf. I always check before I go out. Also, it is the Caribbean festival this weekend so it may be harder to find.

    Now, if you are looking for the non alcoholic stuff, I have found that most Caribbean stores carry it. No Frills tend to have at least one on the shelf. I am messing around with homemade ginger beer and root beer right now, so if you are having problems, I may have a recipe later on this year.

  3. Canadian "whisky" not "whiskey". :)

  4. Yup, but I've never cared for 'trademarks', sherry and port, and the like. See the first line. I guess I did make the one typo when I used Canadian and whiskey in the one place but Jack is a bourbon.

    The other thing is that bourbon is often whiskey. So, if it is used in a sentence describing both, what do you use?