Happy Halloween my little zombies! No, it isn’t quite Halloween yet, but it’s close enough. And I thought a cocktail called a “dark ‘n’ stormy” would be a perfect treat for sharing with you on Halloween. Come on. Is there a better named drink than that for Wednesday night? No. Not only for Wednesday night, but tonight- since the ridiculous Hurricane Sandy is barreling her way up here to NY today. And what could be better than a delicious spooky sounding cocktail made with homemade ingredients for a pre-Halloween storm dubbed “Frankenstorm”?
Ugh, I know. It sucks. I really hate hurricanes. Down in NOLA or other hurricane-prone places, people have “hurricane parties“; they’re so used to it. But see, here in New York we don’t get them often. we aren’t used to it at all, and they can be terrifying. And the shitty thing about it is not only do we never get ‘em, but when we do… they’re usually a doozy. Especially these “once in a lifetime” ones that combine with Nor’Easters or cold fronts to make a monster of a storm. They’re historic storms that end up not only knocking out power & screwing everyone else’s life up for days if not weeks, but sadly killing people on a grand scale. But what is there to do about it? Nothing. Nothing but sit & wait it out. Mother Nature does what she wants. It’s her world, we all just live in it. Respect your mother, right?
It seems I’ve been posting tons of drinks & alcohol infusions & such lately; pumpkin spice latte mix, candy corn vodka, now this. But I can’t help it. Once you start with this stuff you can’t stop. And this particular post all started when I made my own ginger ale… or ginger beer, actually.
The original recipe requires only ginger, sugar, water, lemon juice and a fungal-bacteria symbiote known as a ginger beer plant. Fermentation over a few days turns the mixture into ginger beer.
Forms of live culture other than the ginger beer plant can produce a fermented ginger beer. Cultures used include brewers or baker’s yeast, lactic acid bacteria, kefir grains, and tibicos. Brewing ginger beer generates carbon dioxide as in beer. The alcohol content, when produced by the traditional process can be high, up to 11 %, although ginger beer is usually brewed with much less alcohol.
Brewed ginger beer often includes other flavorings, prominently lemon or lime juice. These juices are not merely ornamental, however, as they establish an acidic pH balance for the solution; this helps in both protecting the ginger beer from other cultures, as well as facilitating sugar inversion to increase the availability of the more readily metabolised fructose and glucose. Other, more strictly flavoring-specific, elements have often included: citrus zests; cayenne pepper and other hot spices; and admixtures from other brews such as nettle or dandelion beers.
I had wanted to do it for a long time, but I kept putting it off & putting it off. I don’t really know why- maybe because I just kept thinking it would be more complicated than it is? Or maybe ’cause I can be kinda lazy. Whatever. But at any rate, I finally got to a point where I decided I was going to do it. And I did. Complete with a scary little bat flying around…
I found two awesome recipes here and I figured I’d try them both. The first one I made was the “fermented” version; made with yeast. It was super easy to make and even though it took almost 3 days to get to sip on, it was more than worth it. I used lime juice instead of lemon and it was fine. Of course with that homemade yeasty-ness too. Not too shabby. But the thing I really wanted to do was make a dark ‘n’ stormy cocktail with it for Halloween. And boy, did I ever!
A Dark and Stormy (or Dark ‘n’ Stormy) is an alcoholic highball style cocktail popular in many British Commonwealth countries, such as Bermuda and Australia. It consists of dark rum and ginger beer over ice. It is optionally accompanied by a slice of lime.
While the Dark ‘n’ Stormy is traditionally made with dark or black rum, one variation nicknamed the Light ‘n’ Stormy uses 10 Cane, a light rum, and Blenheim Old #3 Hot ginger ale. Another variation on the Dark ‘n’ Stormy, called the Ginger Bush, swaps Rum for Bourbon.
For several years, Gosling’s has been a sponsor of the annual yachting regatta Chester Race Week in Chester, Nova Scotia. The Dark ‘n’ Stormy is the special drink of the night each year, made with ginger beer brewed by local Halifax, NS brewery Propeller Brewery.
Alright. So the drink really doesn’t have anything to do with Halloween or even this time of year. But the name, people… the name! And while I’m no expert on this drink, I find the homemade ginger beer really made all the difference. And as a matter of fact, I liked the process so much, I
made brewed up a vanilla cream soda version the next night. And I’m planning on a root beer version. But you don’t care about all that. You wanna get drunk. I understand.
I actually found that this ginger beer was much better in the cocktail than it was alone.
DARK ‘N’ STORMY
- 1 shot (or 2 ounces) of dark rum (preferably Gosling’s Black Seal, but anything dark will do- I used Myers’s myself)
- 1 cup homemade ginger beer (recipe below)
- One quarter of a lime
- 1 sprig fresh mint
- In a glass filled with ice, pour rum, then pour ginger beer. Stir.
- Squeeze the lime in, and if you like, toss the lime right on in the glass.
- Top with mint, candied ginger, or lime if you’re fancy, or you can spear a lime slice on a fancy pick like my Halloween bat.
- Drink up.
HOMEMADE FERMENTED GINGER BEER (adapted a teensy bit from monikakotus.com)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2-2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger root
- juice of one lime
- 1/4 teaspoon baker’s yeast
- cold fresh spring or filtered water (yeast does not like chlorine, so make sure you don’t use fresh tap water unless you let it sit overnight first)
- Through a funnel add sugar and yeast to a 2-liter plastic bottle. Mix grated ginger root and lime juice and then transfer it to a bottle, add water to fill it half way and shake well to mix all ingredients.
- Add more water, leaving about an inch head space, screw the cap on and shake again. You can also mix all the ingredients in a jar and then transfer to a plastic bottle.
- Leave in a warm place for about two days and then transfer to refrigerator, to stop fermentation process. Refrigerate overnight.
- Pour it through a strainer and enjoy!
My fancy French glass bottle was so tall it never fully made it into any of the shots! GRR…
Okay, now, technically the only rum you should use in a dark ‘n’ stormy is Gosling’s. They apparently patented it. But I don’t really see why you can’t, in the privacy of your own home, use whatever dark or spiced rum you have: Kraken, Sailor Jerry, Captain Morgan, Myers’s, Bacardi, etc. And also, technically, you can use ginger ale instead of ginger beer in a dark ‘n’ stormy. Nobody’s going to kill you. However traditionally, ginger beer is what’s used. So if you’re not going to make your own, then at least buy one. There are a huge variety of brands, from Goya, Reeds, Barritt’s & Regatta to those fancy small batch micro-brewed ones you can get at a natural market or beer distributor. And if you do make your own, and you find it too yeasty or too earthy for your taste, try using Champagne yeast instead of supermarket baker’s yeast in the next batch. I thought it was amazing, myself, but of course everyone has a different idea of what kind of ginger ale they like. Tweak it the way you want it. More sugar, less sugar, more ginger, lemon juice instead of lime juice, different yeast, etc.
Also just a small note of massive importance: you cannot use a sugar substitute. Yeast needs sugar to work it’s magic, so you could try lessening the amount of real sugar, and subbing Stevia or something for the rest… but you absolutely MUST use real sugar in some amount in order to get the yeast going. Also, because of this, there’s a minute amount of alcohol in the finished product. Nowhere near enough to matter, really, unless you’re restricted by health or religious factors. It probably amounts to the same percentage in chewing gum or something.
And now for something (not so) completely different…
The second one was a syrup that you mix with sparkling water or club soda to make an “instant” ginger ale. It’s sweeter, doesn’t have that ‘yeasty’ flavor of the other one and it’s very, very easy. Way easier than the fermented stuff, and that stuff is crazy easy in and of itself. Basically: one cup thinly sliced fresh ginger + one cup sugar + two cups water = ginger syrup. Put it all in a medium saucepan, bring to a light boil then lower the heat & simmer for ten minutes. It makes about 2 cups (mine filled a 16-ounce/pint jar almost to the top). Pop it in a jar or bottle, put it in the fridge and use it as you see fit. The website I got it from says one part syrup + three parts club soda (or sparkling water) makes a great instant (and fresh) ginger ale. Delicious. You can have it alone, but if you like you can just squeeze a little fresh lime juice and/and crush some mint in it and you’re on your way. DIY or Die! It’s a crisp, drier version of store-bought ginger ale. Probably cheaper too. Just keep the syrup in the fridge.
It definitely has a more “user friendly” taste than the fermented ginger beer. If you want to ease into making your own sodas, this would be the one to start with.
It’s not as dark as a store-bought ginger ale, but if you like more gingery flavor & add more syrup, it’ll get darker. And yes, you could use the ginger syrup/club soda mix in a Dark ‘n’ Stormy, too. And as an added plus, my mother informs me the ginger syrup is excellent in tea as well. Another plus? Ginger is soothing for stomach problems, and the fresher the better, so this syrup can act as a tummy soother if you’re nauseous or have other ailments of that sort. Which you just might on November 1st, after all that Halloween candy is eaten.
Keep your fingers crossed for me, guys. This storm is supposed to be a wicked one. Everyone else in Sandy’s path, be careful. And if you’re not in her path, be careful out there on Halloween. You never know who… or what… you’ll encounter. Even if it is dark, but not stormy. Bwahahahaha…