Some commenters on my carrot soup post were curious about the vodka-preserved ginger I used as a substitute for fresh ginger root. Because I am usually just cooking for myself, I have a hard time using up produce quickly enough. Anticipating this, I was thinking of ways to use my extra ginger root last month. So I peeled a thumb of it, sliced it into thin sticks, and dropped the sticks through the narrow mouth of a decorative pour-spout bottle. Then I added about a cup of no-frills Smirnoff vodka to the bottle and let the whole operation sit in the fridge for the afternoon. That evening, I made myself a cocktail using the pear cider I had purchased at the Dupont Circle farmers’ market that morning. I’ll call this cocktail the Winter in Dupont Circle, since it was still winter when I made it up.
Winter in Dupont Circle
1 part ginger-infused vodka
1 part fresh pear cider
1/4 part lemon juice
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake until the mixture is very cold. Strain into a champagne flute.
The ginger-infused vodka was definitely best in the first two days. After that, the alcohol-ness of the vodka became more pronounced and the ginger flavor got a bit more bitter. It was still decent, but this infusion is probably best made in small batches and used promptly.
I’m not very good about cleaning my fridge, so the ginger stick remainders sat unsubmerged in the last teaspoon or so of vodka for a month and a half. When I was considering using them for the carrot soup recipe, I shook a piece out of the bottle and chewed on it tentatively. To me, the flavor seemed just as bright as fresh ginger, and if anything the texture actually seemed crisper. Kind of like pickled ginger, but less sweet. My little batch had no trace nor taste of mold, though I can’t say for sure that this is a totally safe process. But preserving produce in alcohol is apparently a tradition. Getting great cocktails out of the deal is a double bonus!