Why It Works
- This homemade ginger liqueur can compete with Domaine de Canton on flavor—for less than half the cost and only 20 minutes of work.
- Steeping time is very short, so this is a perfect DIY holiday gift.
- Unleash your creativity by experimenting with different flavor combinations in small batches to make something you won't find on a liquor store shelf.
Ginger liqueur offers an exciting blend of sweet and spicy flavors. It can turn a basic drink into an intricately layered cocktail experience. Sure, you can use ginger liqueur all year (it's great with sparkling wine, especially when muddled with peaches in the summer) but this potion especially calls to us in winter, when it's just the thing to spice up our drinks.
What's Available to Buy?
Domaine de Canton is the most common ginger liqueur on the market. The ginger kick in Canton is balanced with vanilla, honey, and Cognac—it's elegant, but a bit sweet. Snap is a bolder ginger liqueur featuring nutmeg, cinnamon, and Rooibos tea in its mix of spices. It reminds me of a hearty gingerbread. Both cost about $30 a bottle—though I think Domaine de Canton is a more flexible cocktail ingredient. The King's Ginger is a slightly more expensive high-proof ginger liqueur with an intense bite—smooth but barely sweet.
Stirrings also offers a less complex ginger liqueur for half the price. Though it has a lovely flavor, I find that it doesn't add any more dimension to mixed drinks than a well-made ginger simple syrup would.
As easy as it is to buy a bottle of Canton, my recipe for DIY ginger liqueur takes only 30 minutes of work and tastes just as delicious and refined. The steeping time is very short, so this is a perfect homemade holiday gift. (Hear that, procrastinators?)
It's also fun to play with different flavor combinations in small batches. Add some cinnamon, star anise, and cardamom for an earthier liqueur that's a good match for ciders and warm holiday drinks. A little lemon zest and lemongrass will give you a bright, Asian-inspired flavor. The beauty of homemade liqueur is unleashing your creativity to make something you won't see on the shelf at some liquor store.
Your homemade liqueur is perfect for jazzing up all sorts of cocktails. The simple Tom Collins suddenly tastes exotic with a bit of ginger, but you can also get more complicated than that. Add a little to a hot toddy on a cold night. And yes, it's good in eggnog, or shaken up with rosemary and pears.
Ginger pairs well with so many flavors—think about food recipes that you like that include ginger, and then use those flavors in a cocktail. Carrots, oranges, lemons, apples, pumpkin, green tea—these things are natural partners for ginger and could be the basis for a great new drink. If you give your liqueur as a gift, you can include some handwritten recipe cards featuring your favorite ginger liqueur cocktails. That is, if you can bear to part with some of it.
2 ounces ginger root
1 vanilla bean
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups brandy
Peel ginger and cut it into thin slices. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise.
Bring ginger, vanilla, sugar, and water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until ginger is soft—about 20 minutes. Let the syrup cool. Do not strain yet.
Zest orange and place zest only in a sealable glass container along with the syrup and brandy. Seal and shake, then let this mixture steep for one day.
After one day, remove vanilla bean and let mixture steep for an additional day.
Strain mixture through a coffee filter into your bottle or jar for storage. Let it sit for one more day before using to let flavors mellow.
Peeling ginger with a spoon allows you to navigate the curves and bumps more easily than using a peeler.
Store as you would any liqueur—no refrigeration is required. This should keep for a year, but if it develops off flavors or a cloudy appearance, discard it.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 13g||5%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||0%|
|Total Sugars 12g|
|Vitamin C 1mg||3%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|