Margaret Houston

The Southern Staple: Bourbon and Spicy Ginger Soda

We checked in with award-winning chef Hugh Acheson of 5&10 and the National in Athens, Georgia, for a recommendation on a tailgating cocktail, and he came up with a winner—a slightly more refined take on the classic bourbon and ginger ale, swapping store-bought ginger ale for homemade ginger syrup. “The popular standard of Maker’s Mark and Blenheim is a ubiquitous Athens favorite,” he says. “But the fresh ginger is refreshingly spicy.” Don’t let the syrup scare you. Acheson keeps the recipe simple, and unlike most craft cocktails, this drink will travel. Make the ginger syrup a day ahead for an easy tote to the tailgate. Add a generous pour of bourbon over ice, a little soda water, and some fresh fruit, and you’re ready to go.

Ginger Syrup
½ cup sugar (fine turbinado)
½ cup water
¼ lb. fresh ginger root (peeled and finely grated)

In a small saucepot bring the sugar, water, and ginger to a boil. Turn off the heat, and allow to steep and cool for one hour. Strain off the ginger pieces, and reserve the syrup.


To Serve
(makes 1)
Large ice cubes
3 oz. Maker's Mark (or your favorite bourbon)
1 tbsp. ginger syrup
2 slices fresh ripe peach (Try pear if peaches are out of season.)
2 oz. soda water

Fill a 10 oz. highball glass with ice. Add bourbon and ginger syrup, and stir. Add peach slices (or pear), and pour soda water to the top of the glass. Stir gently.