It’s time to make an old school favourite: homemade ginger ale! If you’ve only ever had the 2-liter bottled version, you are seriously missing out. This version keeps all the medicinal properties of ginger intact for a zesty, fresh beverage. I’m doing a deep dive into how to make your own ginger syrup which you can then use to make ginger ale and a delicious ginger mint lemonade that I know you’ll love.
While I’m not a fan of hot pepper spicy, the warming heat of ginger is totally my jam. Ginger is one of my all-time favourite flavours; I love it in tea, baking, dinner dishes, and above all else, ginger ale.
While most kids don’t like the flavour of ginger ale, I was that odd one who ordered ginger ale at the pizza party when all the other kids were having grape or orange soda.
It might be because I’m Canadian, the home of Canada Dry, which is made with real ginger. I was quite surprised to learn that this delicious drink wasn’t nearly as popular across the border as it is up north.
History of Ginger Ale
As a maker who loves to dig in to learn the “how-to” on everything (including root beer), I did a deep dive into making homemade ginger ale.
The Difference Between Ginger Ale and Ginger Beer
While I remember Canada Dry as my first taste of this delightful drink, historically, ginger ale is a fermented beverage – which is created from the fermentation of ginger and sugar (usually cane sugar or molasses).
Before today’s carbonated sodas were invented, fermented drinks were often brewed at home as a safer (and only mildly alcoholic) alternative to water, which was often contaminated. Ginger Beer, as it was called, was invented in Victorian-era England.
The first ginger ale, a soft drink version with no alcohol, was invented around 1851 in Ireland with the carbonation being created by adding carbon dioxide to the drink. And in 1907, our modern Canada Dry version of ginger ale was created by Canadian pharmacist John McLaughlin.
What is Ginger?
Originally from Southeast Asia, ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a flowering plant with a thick root that is used as a spice and for medicinal purposes.
Ginger’s rhizome, or root, is the part of the plant that is used for many purposes (see below). Harvest this spice by pulling the entire plant out of the ground after the leaves have died back, removing its leaves, and cleaning the root.
You can use ginger in many different ways such as:
- Stored as a spice
- In a syrup
- Brewed in tea
- Topically as an oil (like in a sugar scrub)
Health Benefits of Ginger
Ginger has anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties that make it very effective for use in medicinal applications.
Chinese medicine has used ginger for thousands of years to:
- Decrease nausea
- Assuage digestive disturbances
- Reduce fever
- Stimulate and support the digestive, circulatory, reproductive, and immune systems
Here are some of the common uses of ginger today:
Soothes Stomach Upset
Ginger’s gingerol compounds help to relieve nausea and vomiting and aid indigestion.
Its anti-inflammatory properties help ease joint pain caused by arthritis.
Shortening or Preventing Illness
Its anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties make it effective in the fight against illness such as the common cold and bacterial infections.
Reduce Risk of Cancer
Ginger’s antioxidant properties may help prevent cancer cell growth, making it a potentially powerful aid in preventing cancer.
With all these healing benefits, why not include ginger as part of your diet?
That being said, I like to make this quick ginger ale at home that has the spicy-sweet bite I love, with a simple syrup that can be added to fresh soda.
How to Make Ginger Syrup
I use this recipe, but I usually cook it longer than this recipe calls for.
First, a quick note: This syrup is a bit zippy. If it’s too much for you, and you want to lessen the bite, first blanch the chopped ginger in boiling water. Let it simmer for a minute or two, then drain it and continue with the recipe.
Also, you can peel your ginger or leave it unpeeled. If you leave it unpeeled, your syrup will simply have a darker color.
Ginger Syrup Ingredients:
- 8 ounces fresh ginger, peeled or unpeeled
- 2 cups sugar (for a sugar-free version, use ⅓ cup powdered stevia)
- 4 cups of water
- Pinch of salt
Ginger Syrup Directions:
- Thinly slice the ginger. Then, use your knife to roughly chop it into smaller pieces.
- Put ginger, water, sugar, and salt into your pan. Heat on medium-high heat to boiling, then reduce heat to a steady simmer. Cook for about 1 hour.
- Let cool and strain your syrup through a fine-mesh strainer. Store your syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. It will keep for about 2 weeks.
Homemade Ginger Ale Recipe
Now that you have your ginger syrup, you’re probably wondering how to make ginger ale.
To make ginger ale, combine:
- ¼ cup ginger syrup
- 1 1/2 cups soda water
- An optional squeeze of lemon or lime
Then, if you want to try something a little different, but equally as tasty, you can also make Ginger Mint Lemonade.
Ginger Mint Lemonade
You wouldn’t think that mint and citrus would go well together. I mean, have you ever had a glass of orange juice after you brushed your teeth? Thankfully, this recipe is nothing like that!
The spicy yet smooth sweetness of a ginger syrup combined with fresh-squeezed lemon juice and vague mint is a delight that anyone and everyone must taste. It’s tart, sweet, spicy, and fresh all at once.
Ginger Mint Lemonade Ingredients
Note: This lemonade makes 4 servings
- 4 lemons
- 1 cup ginger syrup
- A handful of fresh mint leaves
- 2 cups of water
Directions To Make Ginger Mint Lemonade
- Juice 4 large lemons to yield 1.5 cups of juice.
- Add one cup of ginger syrup for this recipe.
- Reserve a few sprigs of mint for garnish. Remove the remaining mint leaves and tear them into small pieces.
- Grind and bruise the mint leaves in a mortar and pestle to release the oils. Pour a little of the ginger syrup into the mortar and use the pestle to mash the leaves.
- Pour all of the ingredients together into a large pitcher and stir well. Use a fine-mesh sieve to strain out the pulp, seeds, and leaves.
- Serve over ice with a sprig of mint.
And that’s it. I told you this would be a deep dive into making ginger ale. I hope that you love this recipe for homemade ginger ale and ginger mint lemonade as much we do!
If You Love This, You’ll Love These Other Recipes From the Garden:
- Homemade Root Beer
- How to Make Pickles
- Homemade Low-Sugar Strawberry Freezer Jam
- Garlic Scape Pesto
- Roasted Heirloom Tomato Pizza Sauce
Homemade Ginger Ale Syrup
Ginger Ale Syrup
- 8 oz fresh ginger peeled or unpeeled
- 2 cups sugar can sub for 1/3 cup powdered stevia
- 4 cups water
- 1 pinch salt
Homemade Ginger Ale
- 1/4 cup ginger syrup
- 1 1/2 cups soda water
- squeeze of lemon or lime optional
How To Make Ginger Syrup
- Slice your ginger into thin pieces, then chop into small pieces.
- Place all ingredients into a pan. Heat over medium until it boils.
- Reduce to a rolling simmer, then cook for one hour.
- Let the ginger ale syrup cool, then strain it.
- When stored properly in the fridge, this syrup will last two weeks.
How To Make Homemade Ginger Ale
- Combine all of the ingredients together.
- Add a couple of ice cubes if necessary.