Long-time Bay Area foodies probably remember the addicting fresh ginger ale served at the now-shuttered restaurants, Monsoon in San Francisco, Ginger Island in Berkeley and Ginger Club in Palo Alto.
Now, Bruce Cost, the chef and proprietor of those restaurants, has finally bottled that fizzy goodness. His “Fresh Ginger, Ginger Ale by Bruce Cost” says it all. The soda is made with cane sugar and fresh, whole ginger. In fact, you can see bits of actual ginger root floating in the soda, which is left unfiltered.
The ginger ale comes in three varieties: “Original,” “Pomegranate with Hibiscus,” and “Jasmine Green Tea.” A 12-ounce bottle has 160 calories.
The “Origiinal” has nice heat with balanced sweetness. There’s a real purity of ginger flavor here. The “Pomegrantate with Hibiscus” has the most subtle ginger flavor of the three varieties. It’s a beautiful ruby color, too. My favorite was the “Jasmine Green Tea,” which is infused with whole leaf green jasmine tea from Taiwan. The warm spiciness of the ginger is a wonderful match for the floral, slightly tannic notes. It’s a memorable sip, indeed.
It’s now being served at restaurants such as the Slanted Door in San Francisco, and is available for about $2 per 12-ounce bottle at select Bay Area Whole Foods, Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco, Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, and the Pasta Shop in Oakland and Berkeley, where I bought a bottle of each to try recently.
Another refreshing ginger beverage is Fentiman’s Ginger Beer. Made with ginger root extract, it has a more medicinal taste than the Bruce Cost beverage, as well as a faint citrus note.
Established in 1905, Fentiman’s Botanically Brewed Beverages were originally delivered in stone jars in the United Kingdom. Now, of course, they come in glass bottles. But they’re still made in the same manner by brewing and fermenting herbs and milled roots over a seven-day stretch. They all contain less than 0.5 percent alcohol, too, so they’re appropriate for palates of any age.
For a potent kick of ginger, look no further than Elixir G. This concentrated, non-alcoholic ginger extract is designed to be a mixer for cocktails or seltzer or soda water.
Made with ginger, cane sugar and lemon juice, it definitely packs a punch. What’s nice is that you can control how strong tasting you want your beverage to be, just by adjusting the quantity of the Elixir G used. There’s a lot of ginger flavor here, and quite a bit of lemon, too. In fact, if the lemon were taken down just a notch, this would be near perfect to me.
A 12.7-ounce bottle is $9.99 at BevMo.