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The Chinchilla (+ Homemade Ginger Ale)

April 25, 2013

The Chinchilla cocktail with ginger and limePin it!

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.

The Chinchilla cocktail with ginger and lime

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.

The Chinchilla cocktail with ginger and lime

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.

Tequila, limes, and ginger

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.)

The Chinchilla cocktail with ginger and lime

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.)

The Chinchilla cocktail with ginger and limePin it.

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.

Ginger lime syrup ingredients

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.

Ginger syrup for homemade ginger ale

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.)

Ginger lime syrup for homemade ginger ale

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?)

The Chinchilla cocktail with ginger and limePin it.

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

Ginger and limes for homemade ginger ale

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.

Ginger syrup for homemade ginger ale

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).

Ginger lime syrup for homemade ginger ale

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.

Ginger lime syrup for homemade ginger ale

The Chinchilla

~ 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)

The Chinchilla cocktail with ginger and limePin it!

The Chinchilla cocktail with ginger and limePin it!

Related recipe posts:
> Cara Cara Cocktail (two ways)
> Citrusy Sangria
> Ginger Coconut Rice

34 Comments leave one →
  1. April 25, 2013 9:57 am

    What a good recipe, it has my name on it! I love ginger ale and I am always struggling with drinking the can’s stuff, not natural, too much sugar, etc. And i might even try your Chinchilla, i never drink anything other than a occasional glass of red wine.Thanks!

    • April 25, 2013 10:17 am

      I’m glad to hear it! Yes, I definitely feel much better drinking this compared to super-sugary canned ginger ale. And this way you can adjust all the flavors to your preference!

  2. April 25, 2013 11:01 am

    Awesome cocktail recipe! Love it!

  3. April 25, 2013 11:20 am

    With dark rum this would have been a Dark & Stormy. I like the idea of your tequila version better, though. Were you drinking Blanco, Anejo, or Reposado do you know? I’m more fond of the anejo, it looses some of the harsher edges.

    • April 27, 2013 8:13 pm

      Oh nice, that’s true– this is pretty close to a Dark & Stormy. I remember not liking dark rum the few times I’ve tried it, but that was a long time ago, and I’m sure most types of alcohol would be delicious in this context, especially since it’s still good with tequila!

      I’m not sure what kind we were drinking– we polished off the end of a bottle that had been given to me by a friend (but had sat there not being drunk for over a year!) and then I bought a cheaper kind to replace it, which doesn’t specify… Next time I’ll look for anejo!

  4. April 25, 2013 1:24 pm

    This looks incredible – I love how you added peppercorns to the syrup for extra spice!

    • April 27, 2013 8:15 pm

      Thanks! I actually got the idea for peppercorns from the ginger syrup recipe in the Sushi Secrets cookbook, but that recipe suggests adding 1/4 tsp. of white peppercorns. Black peppercorns are definitely easier to find though, and just a few of them are enough to give it quite a kick!

  5. April 25, 2013 1:31 pm

    Geez this look fabulous! I’d do the same as scraps and make a Dark & Stormy. ;)

  6. April 25, 2013 7:58 pm

    hey, this looks good. I am saving this recipe. How many days will this syrup stay in fridge?

    • April 27, 2013 8:18 pm

      Thanks! Good question. I’d guess about a week, but I’ve only ever kept it as long as 3-4 days, because I’ve used it up by then, either with tequila or not!

  7. April 25, 2013 8:39 pm

    Ahhh! Totally yum! Ginger and lime together in a drink would be heaven.

  8. Nami | Just One Cookbook permalink
    April 25, 2013 9:26 pm

    I’m not much of an alcoholic drinker – I just don’t have a good tolerance and get itchy (allergic?). I love the ginger in drinks, so I’m sure I’d like this one (but less alcohol for me – even same price! hehee).

  9. Jay Bee permalink
    April 25, 2013 11:14 pm


    Ahem. Please excuse this inappropriate outburst of joy, but I love, LOVE Ginger Ale! I’m going to quantiple your recipe yield and drink the whole thing tonight. Perhaps I’ll even force my companion to play a game of Scrabble. And the peppercorns! What a great idea! Okay, I’ll stop gushing now.


    • April 27, 2013 8:23 pm

      Yay, this makes me happy! Thanks for your comment! I hope you did get to drink it all in one night while playing Scrabble. :)

      The peppercorns really add a nice kick to the drink and make it taste like super punchy ginger beer. (I got the idea for them from the cookbook I linked to above, which suggests white peppercorns instead.)

      • Jay Bee permalink
        April 28, 2013 3:09 am

        It was truly delicious! (Although I didn’t drink it all in one night – the bubbles in my Seltzer were a bit too much! Hehehe.) I think I have now forever dispensed with store-bought ginger ale. The peppercorns were a marvel, too… Also, have you tried the actual ginger slices before discarding them? They’re scrumptious! I kept mine and might dry them in the oven to make ginger candies… I’ll blog about it if it’s a success! ;)

      • April 28, 2013 11:45 am

        I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed it! (And your seltzer was too bubbly? Mine is usually disappointingly not bubbly enough; maybe I should switch to a different kind… I only buy it for mixing drinks like this, since I don’t enjoy carbonated water on its own.)

        Also making candied ginger with the leftover boiled ginger slices is a genius idea! When I made this, I asked my fiancee if she could think of any uses for the cooked ginger slices before I discarded them, but neither of us could think of any perfect ways to use them up, so I just tossed them… But I’d LOVE to hear your tips if you find a good recipe for drying or candying them! :)

  10. April 26, 2013 8:43 am

    Can’t wait to try this…YUMMMMY

  11. April 27, 2013 5:26 am

    My alcohol tolerance is quite pathetic so I’m with you…rather have a few lighter drinks than one knock-out drink! LOVE the ginger in this. It’s my favorite cocktail flavor!

    • April 27, 2013 8:29 pm

      Yep, it sounds like we have the same low-alcohol taste in cocktails. Ginger is your favorite cocktail flavor? That’s awesome! I’d love to learn of more tasty gingery cocktails…

  12. April 27, 2013 6:44 pm

    My husband made dark and stormy the other day so we have some leftover ginger beer from that. Will be giving this a try with tequila –yay! Lovely idea.:)

  13. May 1, 2013 5:14 am

    I think I prefer the name ginger-quila actually! I recently tried my hand at brewing homemade (alcoholic) ginger beer, however it didn’t quite work out. Looks like my experiments with ginger-flavoured drinks will continue, and this is a great place to start!

    • May 2, 2013 10:19 am

      Haha, ok well feel free to call it a ginger-quila then! :) I would love to hear your recipe if you ever master one for homemade alcoholic ginger beer… I imagine it’s similar to this one, plus yeast & time?

  14. May 1, 2013 9:18 am

    Ginger and lime – two things I absolutely love, look forward to trying out this refreshing drink : )

  15. May 3, 2013 8:25 am

    I am absolutely making this! One of my favorite beverage flavor combos. Thanks for this.


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