I was going to start this post by saying, ¨I was first introduced to the magic of Ginger Beer Shanties at the age of 15.¨ Then I used my brain for two seconds and realized that if you don’t get the background information there, you might just have slightly misguided ideas about me.
First of all, I think I may have actually been 16 since I can’t remember if this was the fall of 2003 or the summer of 2004. I do remember that it was during my year abroad in France (which, may have turned into 8 or so after that, but this was the year that started it all) in high school.
So, first of all, let me really start by saying that I did NOT spend that year in a closet hugging bottles of ginger beer shandies, red wine, white wine, or even slightly chilled rosé. I led a very normal life and I learned a lot of French, went skiing in the Alps and learned to like foie gras after the third time it was forced upon me. FYI, now I love foie gras. Adore.
However, part of my time in what I thought would be one year only meant that people were forever introducing me to little things that made up French culture. I tried little half glasses of many wines, a little champagne, eau de vie, and this. Not French. In fact, not even introduced to me by a French person.
Besides my dear little host family that comes from the East of France, my first time in France is littered with many fond memories of weekends spent with a family who had a girl about my age and a British wife. This girl and I first bonded over a telephone ringtone, and stayed friends for years after that.
In fact, every so often, thanks to the joys of Skype and Facebook we still say hi to each other. I actually feel a bit of an affinity towards her-we were both bilingual in English and French (her, truly so, me..over the making of many more years in my teen and early adult life), then we were both drawn to Spanish, and ultimately Mexico, and when I told her I was moving to China, I found out that she should have taken a trip to Shanghai this very Christmas, but had had to cancel the trip for some reason. Our geographical lives seem to be somehow linked in a very random way.
So it was her quiet, British mother that introduced me to this which would ultimately lead me on the search for a ginger syrup recipe several years later.
Today, ginger syrup is a staple in my household. Juan and I both love it in a tall frosty glass of beer. Although I wish I could truthfully use the word mug in place of glass. I also used to add it to Perrier as a refreshing, non-alcoholic break from the heat of the summers in Southern France. Add it to a mojito for a slight twist to a classic cocktail, and I promise that it’s the perfect end to a hectic week (if you, like me, have been left feeling like a little cartoon with papers, stars, and little birds swirling around your head).
PS-a ginger beer shanty would normally require ginger beer (a ginger ale that actually tastes like ginger), beer, lemon…), but I generally skip that part and add enough ginger beer to my favorite lager to give it the ginger taste I want and call it good. Actually, I call it delicious. But I’ll let you call it what you want.
This recipe has been adapted from David Lebovitz‘ recipe for ginger syrup.
- 8 ounces (225 g) fresh ginger
- Zest of lemon
- Juice of one lemon
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- Pinch of salt
- I’m with David Lebovitz on this one, no need to peel the ginger, just wash and slice. Add it to your pot. Zest the lemon and add it to the ginger. Combine with the sugar, water and salt and let it come to a boil. Then you can lower the heat and let it simmer for another 45 minutes or until the liquid has reached desired syrup consistency. You can test by taking a spoonful and pouring it back into the pot.
- Strain your syrup and store it in the refridgerator.