Cocktail syrup is very easy — some would say “simple” — to make. Dump some sugar in some water, heat it until it dissolves, let it cool. If you want a flavour other than “sweet”, you can boil some sort of plant part in the water to impart something special. However, in the case of ginger syrup, this route can give you a dull, not-so-spicy syrup with a “cooked” sort of flavour.
I am obsessed with ordering side salads at sushi restaurants. Not because I feel the need to keep my body running with leafy greens, but because I love that damn ginger dressing. I’ve tried to make it at home before, never quite getting it right, until I stumbled on the secret while trying to make a dipping sauce.
Have I made ginger syrup by steeping it in hot water? Yes, and it was exactly fine, but it does not hold a candle to the no-cook syrup in Sasha Patraske’s Regarding Cocktails. The syrup, which combines fresh ginger juice and caster sugar, is infinitely brighter, spicier, and more nuanced than the boiled stuff.
To make it, all you need is a big hunk of ginger, some sugar, and a juicer, food processor, or some sort of blending device with sharp blades.
Clean the ginger thoroughly, breaking it apart as needed to get to any dirt hanging out in its little ginger armpits. Once it’s broken down into 2.5 to 5cm pieces, chuck it in your masticator of choice, and let the blades reduce it to a pulp.
Shove some cheese cloth down into a measuring cup, and scrape the ginger pulp into the cloth. Using clean hands, squeeze and wring the cheese cloth to extract as much juice as possible into the measuring cup.
Note the volume, and pour the juice back into your (rinsed out) food processor or blender. Multiply the volume of the juice by two, add that amount of sugar to the ginger juice, and let it process or blend until the sugar is dissolved.
Pour the syrup into a clean jar, and stir it into cocktails, lemonade, or mix it with sparkling water and lemon to make a really great ginger ale. Store in the refrigerator, where it should keep about two weeks.