By Ed Sikov
My nephew, the lanky 6-foot-5-inch science teacher (and I assure you he got none of those genes from me) was visiting the beach house a few weeks ago, and at one point Dan and I sent him on a shopping trip to the Pines Pantry to get the makings of dinner.
As usual, he returned with twice as much stuff as we’d asked for; he lives in a half-gentrified, half-dicey section of Brooklyn, and he delights in finding things in the Pantry he can’t buy within a mile of his apartment. (Let’s be fair: the Pantry isn’t big on gandules and sofrito, and the infinitely cheerful check-out girls aren’t protected by a massive wall of Plexiglas.) One of these items was a six-pack of Gosling’s ginger beer. It was quite hot that weekend, and the Gosling’s – plain but chilled – really hit the spot.
I guzzled most of mine, but just as I reached the last gulp I had my Proustian moment: in place of Proust’s madeleine was a great but all-but-forgotten cocktail, the Moscow Mule: a shot of vodka goes into a glass with ice, and ginger beer fills the glass. It was a great cocktail in its day; I used to drink them with my high school teachers. (Oh get off your high horse! Big deal! I smoked pot with them, too. Bless them for treating me as an adult.) But I thought it was time for an update, this being the 21st century and all, the Moscow Mule seeing its heyday in the 1970s. So I added a secret ingredient, and suddenly the old Mule got back up on its feet and became even more of a crowd pleaser.
The secret ingredient is Domaine de Canton’s delicious ginger liqueur. Used in moderation – this is very important, people – Canton’s intense ginger flavor only magnifies the spicy yet somehow fruity flavor of the ginger. It’s not a must; it’s hard to find. (Order it on the Internet if your local liquor emporium doesn’t stock it.) But it adds just a touch more intense ginger flavor to the drink. You only need a little bit for each cocktail, and it’ll last forever in your liquor cabinet.
Dan and I threw one of our summer cocktail parties yesterday, and the cocktail du jour was the updated Moscow Mule. I had to rename it, since it was no longer my hip English teacher’s Moscow Mule. Judging by the sheer number of drinks our guests had, the cocktail named itself: the Ginger Binger. It goes down so easy that you may find it difficult to get out of your seat at the end of the party. Your guests may feel the same way. So beware.
The Ginger Binger
Absolut premium vodka – as much as you like
1 to 2 tsp. Domain de Canton ginger liqueur
Gosling’s ginger beer
Fill a tall glass with ice. Add the ginger liqueur, then the vodka; if you want a strong drink, add lots; if you want a weaker one, add less. (Duh!) Then fill the glass with the ginger beer, stir mildly (don’t ruin the fizz) and serve.