Kings day is coming up and Willem-Alexander is visiting Dordrecht. We're hosting some friends for a day of celebration and (of course) I've been thinking a bit about cocktails. This day of Dutch Nationalism seems like the perfect opportunity to introduce our friends to a very American libation, my personal favorite - the Kentucky Buck.
Aside from good bourbon, old-fashioned ginger beer is the star competent in a Kentucky Buck. The intense spice, subtle sweet and depth of flavor makes the perfect base for a Buck and variety of other cocktails. Supermarket ginger ales just won't do and unfortunately, that's all I've found here in the Netherlands.
So, what's the difference between ginger ale and ginger beer and why am I such a soda snob? Ginger beer came first - originating in the 1800's in England, where it was brewed and fermented with sugar, water and fresh ginger. Small amounts of alcohol can be found in ginger beer from the fermentation and carbonation will occur naturally. Ginger ale was created around 100 years later by mixing carbonated water with ginger syrup. In current times, supermarket ginger ales are usually carbonated water, ginger-flavored syrup and corn syrup. I like to think of it this way: ginger beer is like ordering an authentic, Chicago style pizza and ginger ale is like picking up a Little Ceasar's Hot-n-Ready.
But I digress. With my lack of access to ginger beer and desire to make some authentic Kentucky Bucks, I decided to take matters into my own hands and brew some ginger beer! Check back on Tuesday for a re-cap of Kings Day and my Kentucky Buck recipe.
On with the recipe...
1/4 cup of grated ginger (start with about 5 thumb sized nobs of ginger root)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2.5 quarts water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
Peel ginger root. The tip of a spoon is a fast an easy way to do this. Grate ginger and set aside.
In a large stock pan, heat water on medium. Add sugar, lemon juice and ginger until the sugar is dissolved. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature then run through a fine mesh sieve, add active dry yeast .
Carefully funnel mixture into a clean plastic container (we used glass, but for safety reasons, I advise using plastic) - a 2 liter soda bottle would be perfect. Close the lid tightly and place in cool, dark location.
The fermentation will create carbon dioxide, so the mixture will begin to carbonate relatively soon. Open the bottle to release pressure 3 times a day. We let ours sit for 36 hours before, releasing the pressure a final time and moving it to the fridge. The low temperature of the fridge will essentially stop the fermentation (or greatly reduce it).
Your ginger beer will stay good for about a week!