Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ginger Beer Tasting & Cocktails

I stopped by the Boston Shaker on Friday night where the brand manager for Barritt's Bermuda Stone Ginger Beer was holding a tasting event.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that he was offering up more than just samples of the ginger beer and some Dark and Stormies.  Instead, he was hand mixing up an array of 3 different cocktails involving ginger beer, and one non-alcoholic beverage that had been served up at the Honk! festival earlier this month.  The tasting menu included the following beverages, which were kindly provided on recipe cards to the attendees:

Gin Mule
3 oz London Dry Gin (Beefeater)
2 oz Barritt's Ginger Beer
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 Barspoon Sugar Cane Syrup
3-4 lime slices
Combine ginger, lime slices and sugar cane syrup in mixing glass.  Muddle.  Add gin and shake.  Strain into ice-filled Collins glass.  Top with Barritt's Ginger Beer.

Racer Chaser
4 oz Barritt's Ginger Beer
2 oz Pusser's Rum (Pyrat was subbed at the tasting)
Lime Wedge
Fill old-fashiioned glass with ice.  Add rum and Barritt's Ginger Beer.  Give gentle stir to combine.  Garnish with lime wedge and cherry. 

Monticello Lawnmower2.5 oz Rye Whiskey (Sazarac)
2 oz Barritt's Ginger Beer
1 barspoon sugar cane syrup
3 dashes bitters (Angostura)
3-4 Sprigs Mint
2-3 lime slices
Combine mint, syrup, bitters and lime in mixing glass.  Muddle.  Add rye and shake.  Pour into ice-filled Collins glass.  Top with Barritt's.
and the non-alcoholic suggestion:
Hornblower (created by Todd Maul, Cleo Restaurant)
2 oz Cranberry Juice
1/4 oz Trader Tiki Orgeat
2-4 oz Barritt's Ginger Beer
1 dash bitters (Angostura)
Combine cranberry juice and orgeat in mixing glass (add bitters).  Stir to dissolve orgeat.  Pour over ice-filled highbasll glass.  Top with ginger beer.
While everything I tasted struck me as a solid, pleasantly tasting cocktail, I was particularly impressed with the Monticello Lawnmower.  This is probably not surprising, given that I'm a big fan of rye in cocktails generally.  The drink was reminiscent of a mojito, or even more so, a good Whisky Smash, with an added bit of spice from the ginger beer.

As for the Barritt's itself, the sugar cane taste in the ginger beer definitely comes through and gives it a distinctive flavor.  In all honestly, I find the taste a little too overpowering for me to pick it up as a casual soft drink.  That said, I think it is fantastic for mixed drinks.  The distinctive taste makes it seem much more like a true component of the cocktail, rather than just filler.  I picked up a few bottles of the beverage at the tasting, and am looking forward to playing around with it to see what other interesting applications I can come up with (and of course, to try and make a Monticello Lawnmower, because that was just fantastic!).

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