At a party this winter, I very much enjoyed the “featured drink” of a Moscow Mule, which is two parts vodka, one part lime juice, and two to four parts ginger beer. Being a fan of ginger and citrus—and vodka—the combination was delish.
Now what’s the difference between ginger ale and ginger beer? Ginger beer is brewed and fermented while ginger ale is usually a carbonated beverage made from water and ginger, though it can vary by manufacturer. Ginger beer is spicier than ginger ale with a stronger ginger taste, and has less carbonation.
Originally brewed in 18th-century England, ginger beer was fermented, giving it an alcohol content up to 11 percent. But since the mid-20th century, most ginger beer has not contained alcohol and may be carbonated instead of fermented. Today, there are non-alcoholic and alcoholic versions available. Those containing alcohol will usually be labeled “alcoholic ginger beer.”
Ginger is known for anti-inflammatory benefits, soothing stomach troubles, and more—great bonuses in your beverage! To get some health benefits of ginger, look for your beer to be made with ginger root or ground ginger.
A little drink trivia: The Moscow Mule was created in 1941 by a couple men over drinks—John G. Martin, with a small Connecticut-based liquor and food distributor that recently acquired the rights to Smirnoff vodka, and Jack Morgan, the owner of Hollywood’s famous Cock n’ Bull Saloon, who was trying to launch his own brand of ginger beer. According to my Difford’s Encylopedia of Cocktails, they had the idea of mixing the vodka and ginger beer with a dash of lime—and the drink was born. There was a promotion to market the Moscow Mule in a copper mug embossed with a kicking mule, and this helped turn Smirnoff into a major brand.
This creation by mixologist Kathy Casey, which appeared in Drinks magazine, may not have that colorful backstory, but the flavors of lemon and rosemary combine with a zingy fizz from the ginger beer for a refreshing new take on the citrus and ginger theme. Be sure to use a tall glass to get the most out of this drink’s complex fragrance and to take full advantage of its lively effervescence.
Whether you prefer the flavor of lime or lemon, you can’t go wrong with these citrus, vodka, and ginger beer options. Cheers!
Lemon Ginger Fizz
Makes 1 cocktail
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 1⁄2 oz. citrus vodka
3 to 4 oz. chilled ginger beer
Garnish: fresh rosemary sprig and lemon wheel
Break rosemary sprig in half and add to a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice. Add vodka. Shake vigorously and strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with rosemary and lemon.