Two ginger beer bottles.

On the right, a heavy, well-worn, barnacled specimen dredged from the deep off Saint-Malo… a little research showed to be a ginger beer bottle from E&W Guppy, a beverage maker on the isle of Guernsey, from somewhere between 1933 and 1954. (Pretty cool, huh?!)

In the center, MY ginger beer syrup, a spicy concoction that makes all other ginger beers on the market today (I can’t speak for E&W Guppy’s) seem bland and treacly-sweet. The first bottle gave me a hankering to make the second—yes, you can find ginger beer in France, but it is horribly expensive (over 2 euros a 12-oz. pop) especially when you want to make a Dark & Stormy–the cocktail to match the gloom of a Breton winter while tasting of warm Caribbean breezes. (The Dark & Stormy hails from Bermuda —where Gosling rum is de rigeur and the Gosling distillery has trademarked the cocktail name. )

Ginger beer syrup is as easy to make as steeping tea, only you replace grated ginger, sugar, and spices for the tea leaves. And by adding the carbonated water to the syrup, you can adjust the sweetness of your beverage, be it a Dark n’ Stormy, a Jack n’ Ginger, or any number of fizzy, gingery libations.

(And as an extra bonus…I used the strained, grated ginger to spice up a batch of scones.#nowastekitchen)

Homemade Ginger Beer

¼ lb. (100 g.) fresh ginger root
2 cups (400 g.) sugar
1 ½ cups water
½ cinnamon stick
1 strip orange peel
1 clove, optional
small pinch cayenne pepper, optional

FINELY GRATE the ginger with a food processor or a box grater. You can peel the ginger before grating or not—the syrup will be darker with the peel, but since the grated ginger is getting strained out, it won’t change the taste.

BRING the grated ginger and all the remaining ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep 1 hour.

STRAIN the syrup with a fine strainer.

USE 3 to 4 Tbs. ginger beer syrup for 1 cup sparkling water to make the ginger beer. Makes about 2 cups (or about 10 servings)

Dark & Stormy

1 shot (1 oz./50 ml.) black rum, like Gosling’s or dark rum
5 oz. ginger beer
lime slice

FILL a highball glass with ice. Add the rum, and top off with ginger beer. Serve with a slice of lime. (You can also add an extra squeeze of lime juice to the rum before adding the ginger beer, if you like.