Friday Musings: The Whiskey Ginger gets a makeover
There are a number of drinks that I think we all order without giving very much thought to the ingredients that go into them. A vodka club is one, rum and coke is another, a gin and tonic makes 3, and then there’s the whiskey ginger. There’s nothing wrong with any of these drinks. To the contrary, they’re simple, reliable, and inexpensive, and we can ask for them without feeling foolish or pretentious. But can I just interject here and say that they may also be just a little bit… boring, maybe? And that they make us just a tad complacent as cocktail drinkers? After all, there aren’t going to be any surprises, and we don’t have to have very high expectations; we can just order our drink and know that it’s going to be the best that it can be. But is that really a true statement? What if we demand more? We know that it can be done. In one of my early blog posts I mentioned the transformational gin and tonic that I’d had at Root Restaurant in Philadelphia. That one beautiful drink, with its one large cube, fresh botanicals, and high end tonic radically changed my view of this particular cocktail. Since it’s St Patty’s Day and whiskey is on the menu anyway, what do you say we try giving the whiskey ginger a bit of an overhaul?
Why fix something that isn’t broken? That’s a legitimate question, but you know that I like to view the cocktail world as a kind of metaphor for life, so for me that’s where the answer is. If you’re new to my blog, that’s what the Friday Musings posts are all about. It’s all too often that we’re fine with making safe decisions. We’re willing to let things remain exactly as they are even if we know there’s something missing, mostly because we’re hesitant to shake up our world. We’re afraid of where all the pieces may land. Why try to make a better whiskey ginger when the end result is not guaranteed? It could turn out to be total garbage… but what if it doesn’t? What if it’s the most glorious drink you’ve ever tasted? I can almost hear what you’re all shouting at me right now: because we have responsibilities! We can’t just turn the world on its head and hope that it’ll all turn out okay! Of course we do, and of course we can’t; that’s certainly not what I’m saying. I’m suggesting that sometimes we let our responsibilities prevent us from even considering anything that’s outside the confines of our current situation. I’m suggesting that we push a little bit against the fear, examining the possibility that we might be able to have something that we truly want, while still doing all the things that we absolutely need to do. It takes courage, something our man of the day, St. Patrick, had in spades. He’s known for his courageous faith, or for continuing to believe in the face of incredible obstacles. How often do we place our faith only in the known outcome of meeting our everyday responsibilities? I’m suggesting that we shift that focus, and allow ourselves to believe in what’s in our hearts, opening up to the tiniest bit of hope and possibility. Once that door is open, we just might find a way to walk through it.
For today’s cocktail I used the best Irish whiskey I had on hand, Redbreast 12, because today is a celebration after all! I then added layers of ginger flavor, in the form of Giffard’s ginger liqueur, Liber & Co’s fiery ginger syrup, and Q ginger ale. I also used lime juice rather than just a quick squeeze and a garnish. The resulting drink had all the things I love about a whiskey ginger, particularly its ability to be warm and refreshing all at the same time, but the layers added depth and complexity, bringing the cocktail to a whole new level. Gone were the things I always despised: the cheap whiskey, the high fructose ginger ale, the thinness of the drink that always left me wishing for more… I’ve named it the Irish Triplet. If you wanted to serve this drink up in a cocktail glass without the ice and the ginger ale, you certainly could, but then you’d have to call it (drumroll, please) an Irish Twin.
Happy St. Patty’s Day. Think on your life. What’s the one little change you can make to take a step in that new direction? Do it. Don’t let being afraid stop you for one more minute.
The Irish Triplet
2 oz Redbreast Irish Whiskey 12-year-old
½ oz Giffard ginger liqueur
½ oz fresh lime juice
¼ oz Liber & Co fiery ginger syrup
3 oz Q ginger ale
Combine all the ingredients except the ginger ale in the bottom half of a cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake for about 20 seconds until cold. Double strain into a Collins glass filled with ice and top with the ginger ale. Garnish with a shamrock cut from a lime peel. Sláinte!