The Chinchilla (+ Homemade Ginger Ale)
Necessity is the mother of invention; I think many a cocktail owes its existence to low alcohol tolerance.
Granted, some cocktails have an astronomical liquor-to-mixer ratio. You know, the kind so strong that you can enjoy approximately one drink on any given weeknight– maybe one and a half on a weekend– but where’s the fun in that?
I may be one of the world’s slowest drinkers (I have to microwave my cup of coffee at least three times every morning) but I’d still prefer to drink several lighter cocktails in an evening, rather than one so potent it just sits there, becoming increasingly warm and watery, yet still somehow tasting too alcoholic to be truly enjoyable.
I’ve been old enough for a while now that I don’t feel the need to grimace at the harsh taste of alcohol in my drinks just to feel that I’ve gotten my money’s worth. I want to drink something that tastes good.
This cocktail was born of a collaboration.
I was spending a typical, low-key evening with a few friends– just sitting around the table, drinking and playing board games.
Of these friends, one is the sort who enjoys sipping tequila without even using a mixer, and one is the sort who never drinks any alcohol but is fond of (non-alcoholic) ginger beer (and donuts). That evening, I was the sort who had shown up with donuts, but had neglected to bring over any of my own preferred things to drink.
My pickings were slim: tequila, ginger beer, water, or milk.
So I did what any lover-of-the-tasty-cocktail would do. I poured myself a few sips worth of tequila and topped it off with the non-alcoholic ginger beer. Success! Not that I’d invented any new, crazy flavor; the best part was that it tasted like… ginger beer! (And– dangerous though it may be– that is how I like my tequila best: undetectable.)
But what to name this new Ginger + Tequila combination? Easily solved with a little help from my friends. We dubbed this cocktail the Chinchilla. (Which sounds much more intriguing and less cheesy than a ginger-quila.)
My tequila-sipping friend agreed the resulting drink was tasty. My alcohol-abstaining friend continued to abstain. And I drank multiple Chinchillas, with no adverse effects on my already poor Scrabble skills.
I felt that I’d struck tequila-consumption gold with this drink, so I am sharing the recipe with you here. You can re-create our original Chinchilla exactly with just some store-bought ginger beer and tequila, but I thought it’d be worth a try to make it from scratch using homemade ginger syrup.
The storebought ginger beer was like a spicier, citrusier ginger ale, so I added fresh lime juice and a few peppercorns to my ginger syrup, and loved the result. (Paula thought it was a little too spicy, but you can modify it to your own taste, by leaving out the peppercorns, or adding more brown sugar or lime juice.)
The syrup might take a little longer to prepare than is typical for a cocktail, but you can make extra and store it in the fridge, and you can use it for The Chinchilla or just for delicious Homemade Ginger Ale. I’m sure there are plenty of other great uses for it, too– let me know if you discover some! (Perhaps combine it with actual beer? Or drizzle it over ice cream?)
Print both recipes. (PDF)
Ginger Lime Syrup (for Homemade Ginger Ale)
(Adapted from Sushi Secrets by Marisa Baggett.)
(Makes 1-1⅓ cup, or enough to flavor about 6 drinks)
~ 4-5 oz. fresh ginger, peeled and sliced (about 1 heaping cup)
~ 1¾ cup water
~ ½ cup brown sugar
~ ½ cup agave syrup (or substitute brown sugar)
~ 3-5 black peppercorns (optional)
~ 3-4 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (from about 1 lime)
For Ginger Ale:
~ club soda or seltzer, chilled
~ lime wedges to garnish
How to make it:
1. Peel the ginger (or scrub it clean) then slice it into thin rounds and set aside.
2. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the water, brown sugar, and agave syrup, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Then add the ginger and peppercorns and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, then remove from heat, cover, and steep another 10 minutes.
3. Strain out the ginger and peppercorns, then return the mixture to the saucepan and add the fresh lime juice. Bring to a boil, and simmer down until the mixture has reduced into a syrup (5-10 minutes).
4. Allow to cool completely before using the syrup. (Syrup can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for several days.)
5. To make Homemade Ginger Ale / Ginger Beer: measure out 1-1½ oz. ginger lime syrup into a glass. Top with 4 oz. seltzer or club soda. Garnish with lime.
~ 1-1½ oz. ginger lime syrup
~ ½-¾ oz. tequila
~ 4-5 oz. club soda or seltzer, chilled
~ 1-2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
~ lime wedge to garnish
How to make it:
1. Measure out ginger lime syrup and tequila into a glass (I used small 7 oz. juice glasses in these photos).
2. Top with club soda or seltzer and add several ice cubes if desired. Give it a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice, then garnish with a wedge of lime.
Print these recipes! (PDF)