Fresh, spicy and fiery, ginger makes a great pre-dinner drink. With summer just around the corner, ginger is proving to be a versatile cocktail hour partner for alcohol-free juices, syrups and ginger beers. Time to give it a try.

Ginger is everywhere, especially when it comes to pre-dinner drinks. With the NOLO (“no alcohol, low alcohol”) beverage boom, ginger is taking over the cocktail hour landscape. Whether as a syrup or in ginger beer or juices, this fiery root is the king of next-gen cocktails. Never dull, this spice alone can add a sometimes wicked kick to the most classic of juices, bringing a spicy twist to all kinds of combinations.

It’s not surprising that ginger has such an exotic taste. This plant — of which we use the rhizome (a kind of big subterranean root) — originates from India and is eaten in much of Asia. In Japan, for example, ginger is pickled as a condiment for sushi, while in India, it is used in dishes like masala and vindaloo. It also features in Thai cuisine.

In Europe, the spice is above all known for bringing flavor to gingerbread, for example. But recently, ginger has been finding its way into all kinds of drinks.

Three ways to enjoy ginger in drinks

For a pre-dinner drink, ginger makes a great addition to juices. Juice-maker Alain Milliat combines ginger with lemon juice, plus lychee and mango purée, in various organic concoctions with no added sugar.

When it comes to flavor, Gimber concentrate uses ginger, lemon and spices to create a delicate drink with a fiery bite. It can easily be used to make various mixed drinks. For a cocktail-style long drink, just add sparkling water. This concentrate can even be used to make a subtle and surprising marinade for carpaccio dishes.

Finally, there’s always the classic ginger beer or ginger ale options. Unlike regular beer, these drinks are actually alcohol-free sodas with varying degrees of ginger flavor — even if they often come served in bottles similar to those of regular beers. Fentimans, for example, uses a brewing process to obtain its signature Ginger Ale texture, together with orange extract and infusions of galangal and cinnamon.

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