Cocktail #35: Northsider Dry Ginger Spritz

Drynuary continues ...

This week we have another non-alcoholic drink that echoes many flavors of a true fully loaded exotic cocktail.

After last week's complete and utter failure, I decided that I would mostly go it alone for the rest of the month and try to come up with a few recipes of my own that had a little more nuance, and were more interesting than just a glass full of juice, seltzer, and grenadine.

After considering a few of the non-alcoholic ingredients in some of my favorite drinks that usually complement rum, I rounded up a few that seemed like they could stand on their own, no rum needed. The Northsider Dry Ginger Spritz was born:

  • 3.00 oz. ginger beer (not ginger ale)
  • 0.50 oz. cinnamon syrup*
  • 2 drops vanilla syrup**
  • 0.50 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 0.50 oz. lime juice
  • 0.25 oz. orgeat
  • 2 dashes bitters (I used Fee Brothers "Old Fashion Aromatic" which is totally alcohol-free; be careful with bitters if you are making a non-alcoholic drink for someone who absolutely cannot have any - many bitters do contain alcohol)
  • 1 tsp maraschino cherry syrup (again, be careful here - I used my homemade maraschino cherry syrup, which does technically contain alcohol; the store bought stuff is probably ok)

Add all ingredients -- except ginger beer -- to a cocktail shaker with about a cup of crushed ice. Shake vigorously. Add a half-cup or cup of crushed ice to the vessel of your choice - a double old fashioned glass would have worked here too - and open pour the contents of the shaker into the glass. Top with the ginger beer and give a quick swizzle to combine. I garnished with a cinnamon stick, maraschino cherry, and lime wheel.

* To make cinnamon syrup, boil 1 cup of water with 2 halved cinnamon sticks over high heat in a saucepan. Add 2 cups granulated sugar and stir until dissolved, about 1 minute. Immediately remove from heat. Cover and let sit at room temp for 12-24 hours. Strain through a cheesecloth and/or fine mesh strainer into a bowl and then use a funnel to bottle it. It'll keep refrigerated for a few weeks.

** If I had more time, I would have made my own vanilla syrup using a whole vanilla bean, using a similar method to cinnamon syrup, but instead I used good old Torani sugar-free vanilla syrup. Does the job.

Verdict: I loved this drink! This is definitely one of my favorite drinks of the past 34, alcohol or not. Normally I don't care for ginger beer on its own, but with the cinnamon spice and the grapefruit/lime citrus, it really mellowed out what I find to be a fairly potent and harsh ginger flavor of the ginger beer, and added a few more levels to the drink. There was nothing syrupy sweet or too tart about this cocktail, unlike a lot of other alcohol-free tiki drinks out there. This is also incredibly easy to create in a batch - just multiply the ingredients above (except for ginger beer) by the number of drinks and get ready to go in a large cocktail shaker. When you're ready to serve, add ice, shake up, pour, and add ginger beer. Your teetotaler guest will love this one and they won't miss the booze.

Speaking of teetotalers, here's an interesting clip about temperance warrior, Carry Nation, known for smashing up saloons with various implements of destruction (most infamously, a hatchet) in the early years of the last century. And let us be thankful that we can now choose temperance for ourselves, and not at the behest of a religious nut or the government!

Cheers, drinkers and abstainers alike!


  1. My personal experience with homemade cinnamon simple syrup: 1. you don't need to strain it, unless you want the clarity for visual appeal. In fact, I've left whole cinnamon sticks in it to help remind me which syrup in my collection is which. 2. It doesn't require refrigeration; sugar is a natural preservative and cinnamon has its own antibacterial properties 3. It keeps seemingly forever (see point 2), or at least for the many months it takes me until I've managed to run low on a batch.

    1. Thanks for reading and for your comment! Good to know - I was following the recipe in Martin Cate's Smugger's Cove book. I guess I figured that leaving solids behind in the final syrup may cause it to go bad sooner. Hopefully my strained batch will keep longer than a few weeks! Thanks again!