I love ginger and am never without it in my kitchen, ready to chop or grate into myriad dishes, as well as plenty of ground ginger and (bliss) a jar of stem ginger in a gorgeous luscious syrup. I enjoy ginger drinks aplenty, especially at this time of year, when the peppery warmth of the spice is particularly welcome.
A shot of classic ginger wine – Stone’s is the best-known brand but there are others including good-value supermarket own-labels – is a cheery winter winner.
Play around with it, mixing equal parts with whisky for a Whisky Mac, making a hot toddy by adding just-boiled water, a clove or two and lemon slice to it, or topping up a small shot with dry fizz for an instant sweet sparkling cocktail.
If you like it too and want to turn the spice heat up, I urge you to splash out on a bottle of the glorious King’s Ginger Liqueur, below, one of my favourite winter drinks.
Made by the wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd, it is the sort of elixir that suits sitting by the fire, after a frosty afternoon’s hike. It warms the cockles like practically nothing else – my tasting note is below.
I came across a non-alcoholic equivalent recently, though, in the form of Gimber Organic Ginger Concentrate, a powerful mix of ginger root with lemon, spices and herbs. It’s made in Belgium and is now on sale here through Trouva, Planet Organic and others, from £14.95 for 200ml. Dilute with water, preferably sparkling, to taste – a little goes a long way and it’s dry so you may want to sweeten it.
As for the usual gingery cordials and mixers, I recommend the London Essence Company’s Perfectly Spiced Ginger Beer (widely available, £1.85/500ml) which is cloudy with a proper kick of spice and balanced sweetness, perfectly good on its own and even better mixed with dark rum. Bottle Green’s Ginger & Lemongrass Cordial, see below, is also a winner.
Then there are ginger shots – small bottles, 70-100ml, with fresh ginger juice mixed with citrus juice. I tried Waitrose’s Ginger Shot (£1.50/100ml) and the one below recently and enjoyed both – especially as a breakfast drink with porridge.
And so to tea, and ginger makes a great base because of its sheer force of flavour. My current favourite is the fresh Twinings Superblends Defence (widely available, £1.35/20 bags), which combines ginger with white hibiscus, lemon and echinacea on a green tea base.
I make my own gingery tea too, using three slices of peeled, fresh ginger, bruised slightly to release the juices, one star anise and a short stick of cinnamon, all in one cup, with boiling water and left to steep for four minutes.
Remove the spices and add a dab of honey, or for more spicy-sweet joy, a dollop of syrup from that jar of stemmed ginger.