One of the most enduring memories from my recent trip to Grenada was the mouth-numbing ginger beer that the islanders make with copious amounts of fresh, gnarled claws of local ginger. I first tasted it at Patrick’s Homestyle Cooking, an unassuming hole-in-the-wall that serves the spicy concoction alongside a huge spread of delicious Caribbean dishes, like callaloo soup, rice and peas, and curried chicken.
Weeks after I returned home, the ginger beer stuck with me. Now, if you’ve ever had ginger ale, forget it. This is a totally different animal—pure, almost overwhelming ginger flavor that’ll make your head spin. It’s cold and fruity, sweet and spicy, refreshing and warm all at the same time. And so I decided to deconstruct it from memory, to recreate a bit of Grenada here in Savannah. The process was really pretty simple, not much different that some of our favorite Southern concoctions, like fresh-squeezed lemonade or sweet tea.
- 1 hand-sized piece of ginger root
- 1/2 cup simple syrup
- 4 cups cold water
I started with a nice, fresh ginger root about the size of my hand (when shopping at the grocery store, make sure the ginger is very firm, with no soft or dried out spots on it). I broke apart the fingers, peeled them with a vegetable peeler and ran them all through my juicer. If you don’t have a juicer, you could also just chop it all up, buzz it in a blender and strain out the pulp.
Warning: Don’t be tempted to taste the ginger juice uncut. This stuff is strong and needs some serious dilution. I ended up with about 1/2 cup of ginger juice, which I mixed with 1/2 cup simple syrup (just boil 1 cup sugar in 1 cup water until the sugar dissolves—save the leftover for next time). The sweetened mixture then goes into a pitcher with 4 cups of cold water. You can add more or less syrup/water to taste. Stir. Pour over ice. Enjoy your ginger beer Grenada style.