With the first week of March complete, the doldrums of winter nearly over (fingers-crossed), and a historic Pi Day approaching at week’s end, it’s time for a project post! This time it’s about making our new favorite cocktail variation on a longtime favorite, the Morganthaler Dark ‘N’ Stormy, an ideal springtime libation with a spicy kick in the pants!
Recently Lisa and I sent out invitations for a party we decided to host in honor of this year’s once-in-a-lifetime Pi Day (3/14/15). While our party may not be the grandest celebration in our fair city, (see MIT’s admissions letters going out here), we will have fun! We’re asking our guests to bring sweet or savory pies (think apple, key lime, shepherd’s, even pizza) and I plan to make a batch of my new favorite variation of our favored drink for our guests.
What follows is my guide to making Morgenthaler’s ginger beer recipe with champagne yeast. Then in a few days, I’ll post his pain-free Chinese Five Spice Rum recipe, which frankly could not possibly be easier. This will be my fourth batch of the ginger beer and through my own experimentation I’ve found one hack that yields greater consistency when using yeast than Morgenthaler’s original recipe on his blog or in his book.
My contribution to his recipe is a volumetric measure of yeast. Morgenthaler’s suggestion of the “tip of a paring knife” or “roughly 25 granules of yeast” (who’s really going to count granules?) didn’t satisfy me, through trial and error I found the volume—one pinch (1/16 tsp.) that produced the best result for my tastes (see below).
In the following ratios you’ll need (per 16 oz. bottle):
- 1 oz. fresh ginger juice
- 2 oz. finely strained fresh lemon juice
- 3 oz. simple syrup
- 10 oz. water
- 1/16 tsp. (one pinch) Red Star champagne yeast
Or (if using 12-oz. bottles) adjust to:
- .75 oz. fresh ginger juice
- 1.5 oz. finely strained lemon juice
- 2.25 oz. simple syrup
- 7.5 oz. water
- 1/16 tsp. (one pinch) Red Star champagne yeast (yes, I realize this is the same as a 16 oz. bottle, but I until I find a means of measuring 1.75/32 tsp. it’ll do)
Making the ginger beer:
As Morgenthaler suggests, there is one piece of equipment you need if you plan to make ginger beer more than once, and that is a juice extractor (we use this breville juicer, better one’s exist, but it works sufficiently well). Alternatively, I’ve seen people use a blender/food processor in concert with an orange squeezer and cheesecloth. I find that even with the juice extractor the ginger pulp is still moist enough that I now use this second method to increase the yield. One last word, I peel the ginger root before juicing it, but I’ve seen others not peel—your choice (I imagine the skins would give a woodier taste).
Next, you’re going to need your freshly squeezed and filtered lemon juice. While one could certainly use the breville juicer for this step, lemons are so soft and easily juiced that it can more easily be done by hand. In this case, I used a citrus hand press, which can be found on amazon for less than $10 here, or comparably priced in any restaurant supply store—we bought ours at China Fair in Porter Square. Just pay attention to the ratios above.
Now for the simple syrup. You have options here, depending on how much you need, you could make it on a stovetop, or even in a microwave. Just remember that “simple” syrup is a 1:1 mixture of sugar and water. Again, pay attention to the ratios.
Finally, mix your ingredients together with water and fill your bottles using a funnel. For consistency, make sure to measure out either 12 ounces or 16 ounces, depending on the size of bottles you’re using, with a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Add your yeast, cap, and store under the kitchen sink for 48 hours.