august 17, 2021
Wine coolers enjoyed a surge in popularity many years ago. They were the low alcohol counterpoint to more potent cocktails made with spirits. Nevertheless, like many fads, they passed into oblivion. Modern takes on coolers are more likely to involve vodka with something citrus and something fizzy.
My take on this refreshing summer beverage is today’s Lemon Ginger Vodka Cooler. Nose tickling ginger simple syrup and fresh lemon juice make the base, which doubles as a fabulous mocktail with the addition of seltzer. Add vodka and you have a cocktail for modern times.
I’ve played with lemon and ginger before with the aptly named Lemon Ginger Cocktail. Ginger infused vodka married intense homemade lemonade for that winter beverage. This vodka cooler libation is perfect for hot weather; anything fizzy begs for being poured on the rocks in a tall glass. While plain seltzer is my choice, use lemon or lime flavored fizzy water if you like a citrus blast.
Your work in the kitchen is easy. Cut the fresh ginger into chunks and don’t bother with a thorough peel. Cool the ginger syrup and refrigerate, adding fresh lemon juice whenever you like. This is the base for your drinks—add vodka plus seltzer for a smashing cocktail, and plain seltzer for a mocktail you can sip in the shade.
Here is the secret to keeping it cool : have all components well chilled, and do consider storing your vodka in the freezer for an even chillier drink.
Lemon Ginger Vodka Cooler
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes about 2 ½ cups lemon ginger base for beverages
1 ½ cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped ginger – most peel removed, but you can leave on difficult bits
1 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
chilled seltzer, plain or citrus
chilled vodka – good to keep your bottle in the freezer
optional garnish : lemon zest
- In heavy small nonreactive saucepan, bring water, sugar and chopped ginger to simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar.
- Cover and gently simmer mixture for 15 minutes.
- Cool to room temperature one hour.
- Strain to remove ginger and add fresh lemon juice – this is your beverage base.
- Consider using the ginger pieces to flavor iced tea or other beverages.
- For mocktail, add 2 ounces lemon ginger base to glass filled with ice and top with seltzer .
- For cocktail, add 2 ounces lemon ginger base and 2 ounces vodka to glass filled with ice and top with seltzer.
- Garnish if desired with lemon zest.
- Lemon ginger base will keep in the fridge for several weeks as long as you use clean utensils.