In-a-Jiffy Ginger Beer

What lemonade is to Americans, ginger beer is to folks in the Caribbean. While many carbonated brands are available in Stateside supermarkets (choose those that list ginger as the first ingredient, not capsicum, which adds heat but no flavor), it’s easy to whip up a batch of the spicy and exotic brew at home.

2 four-inch pieces of fresh ginger, peeled and grated on the largest side of the grater.
8 cups water.
1/3 cup brown sugar.
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice.
2 drops vanilla extract.
A pinch of mace or nutmeg.
Mint sprigs for garnish.

Combine 4 cups water, ginger, and sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add lime juice, then set aside to cool. Fill a large glass half full with ice and add 4 cups of cold water. Pour in ginger mixture and mix well. Serve in tall glasses garnished with mint sprigs. Add a shot of dark rum or vodka to each glass, if desires. Makes one quart.

From Aug/Sept 2008 edition of Caribbean Travel and Life.