Ginger beer is a powerful mixer. By day, it’s a delicious booze-free drink. But by night, it combines with a spirit—any spirit—to become an instantly iconic cocktail. The two most famed ginger beer cocktails are the Moscow Mule, a vodka-and-lime-spiked cocktail whose signature copper mug has earned it quite a cult following, and the Dark and Stormy, a moody blend of dark rum, ginger beer and lime.
As simple as these fizzy cocktails are, they can fall flat if you choose the wrong brand of ginger beer. To ensure your Moscow Mule or Dark and Stormy caters perfectly to your tastes—whether you prefer yours spicy, sweet or ultra-fizzy—here are the ginger beers your cocktails need.
Seeing is believing when it comes to Bruce Cost. The maker of what seems to be an ever increasing stable of ginger ales also puts out cans of stronger, spicier ginger beer. Like all of the brand’s ginger ales, tiny pieces of ginger float happily around the can and eventually into your drink. Not only will a can of Cost give you amongst the most ginger flavor of any ginger beer out there, it’s probably also the only one that can give you a drink with texture.
To create its refreshing mixer, Fever-Tree blends ginger from three countries: Ivory Coast, Nigeria and South West India. Though not excessively spicy, this ginger beer does leave a lasting ginger twinge in the back of the throat and has a fresh aroma carried by a super-fine fizz.
You may recognize the name of this ginger beer from Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, the official rum of the Dark and Stormy (the company actually owns the trademark on the cocktail). Though it’s not as natural as many of the ginger beers on the market, using high fructose corn syrup instead of cane sugar for sweetness, it’s one of the more widely available ginger beers on the market and a good choice for those who like a little spice and heavy carbonation.
The aussie ginger beer is a great candidate for you Moscow Mule fans. It’s slightly sweet and quite easy drinking, nestling in nicely with the vodka. If you just want something ice cold and quaffable, this is it.
Though not technically a ginger beer, this “brew” from Maine Root wins the award for packing the most natural ginger flavor into a 12-ounce bottle. Its flavor is less acidic than some ginger beers, and the blend of ginger, cane juice and spices won’t leave ginger die-hards wanting. But be warned: This ginger brew comes with plenty of sediment floating around in the drink—so pour carefully.
If you’re all about the spice, this little known ginger beer from the aptly named Ginger People is your new best friend. It’s made with carbonated water, cane sugar and ginger juice, with a dose of citric acid to give it its signature bite. Like a number of other ginger beers, this product is not filtered, which only adds more texture and flavor to any glass.
Fentimans puts the fact that all of its drinks are “botanically brewed,” front and center. The process involves fermentation, which gives the brew an extra funky flavor. And the addition of ingredients like juniper and yarrow root, as well as plenty of spicy ginger, make it truly stand out on a shelf full of ginger beer. If you’re a Moscow Mule drinker, you may want something a little more straight ahead, but if you’re a Dark and Stormy drinker ready to spread your ginger beer wings and fly, pick up a bottle of Fentimans.