Thursday, November 10, 2016

Bottle Swap: The King's Ginger

Moscow Martini

This post is going to be a little different from my usual Bottle Buys, because this time it's a bottle swap! Fellow Boston cocktail blogger Mr. Muddle and I, lamenting the fact that we can't buy every single cocktail ingredient out there without bankrupting ourselves, decided to do a bottle swap where we each bought a new spirit and shared half of the bottle. Today and next Thursday, we're both using our new ingredients in original cocktails. Be sure to check out Mr. Muddle's blog today for the Thoroughly Polite Dustup, his take on The King's Ginger (and possibly the best cocktail name I've heard in a while - reference for the uninitiated).

The King's Ginger was Mr. Muddle's suggestion for the swap, and I was very excited to get my hands on some of this ginger liqueur. It's made by macerating ginger root in a high-proof brandy. Honey, lemon peel, and a bit of whiskey are added as well. It's a thick, syrupy liqueur with an intense ginger flavor and a spicy bite.

I love a liqueur with an interesting history behind it, and as you might guess from its name, The King's Ginger has got one. According to their website, the royal physician of King Edward VII commissioned the ginger liqueur in 1903 "to stimulate and revivify His Majesty whilst exposed to the elements on morning rides in his new horseless carriage." It was created by Berry Bros., a spirits company that has existed since 1698 and is still operating today as Berry Bros. & Rudd. They have supplied wine and spirits to the royal family since 1720.

King Edward VII was the eldest son of Queen Victoria. He was quite the bon vivant; you may recall some of his antics from my post on the Prince of Wales cocktail, one of his favored drinks. He enjoyed good food, cigars, hunting, and the company of ladies. (As The King's Ginger tactfully puts it, "The encumbrance of marriage didn't curb the socialising to which Edward had become accustomed.") He also enjoyed driving. He became the first monarch to own an automobile in 1900, when he bought a Daimler. He bought several more during his reign. These were open-air vehicles, and the Royal Physician was very worried about the effects of driving on Edward's health. He asked Berry Bros. to create a liqueur that would warm His Majesty up after his morning drives. And so the King's Ginger was born.

King Edward VII in his Daimler
Edward VII in his Daimler.

I'm a little unclear on exactly how long The King's Ginger has been on the shelves - it was sold as far back as the 1980's, but the current version has only been around since 2010 or so. I don't know if Berry Bros. started marketing it immediately or if it remained something of a royal specialty for a while. But thank goodness it's available to us commoners now!

I was really excited about this liqueur, as ginger is one of my favorite flavors in a cocktail. It seems to work with any spirit. I've made ginger syrup in the past, but fresh ginger definitely isn't something I usually have on hand, and I love that this liqueur will be a permanent fixture in my bar. Unlike Domain de Canton, which is quite sweet, The King's Ginger really has some bite to it, and a wonderfully natural-tasting ginger flavor.

King's Ginger

Price: $35
Alcohol Content: 41%
Popular Cocktails: No classics I know of; try it in any citrusy or fizzy drink

The King's Ginger is an extremely versatile cocktail ingredient - a million possible recipes popped into my mind when I tasted it. I decided to try something a little fun and do a riff on a cocktail I'm not really a huge fan of: the Moscow Mule. This mixture of ginger beer, lime, and vodka is undeniably refreshing but not really all that complex or special, copper mug aside. So I wondered what it would take to make a version I'd like with the King's Ginger. Since I generally prefer cocktails that are served up instead of on the rocks, I decided the fizz was going to go - I was going to martini-fy the Moscow Mule. And I have to say, I'm kind of in love with the finished product. This is definitely a vodka cocktail that I like!

And this one doesn't need a special glass, right? Oh wait... they sell copper coupes? Um, yeah. I had to get one of those.

Moscow Martini

Moscow Martini

2 oz. vodka
1 oz. King's Ginger
3/4 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with lime and crystallized ginger.

Historical information for this post came from The King's Ginger, The Whiskey Exchange, and Anchor Distilling.

1 comment :

  1. Absolutely making this one. And that's an amazing pic of the king himself. Well done! Looking forward to next week!