There are many drinks that attribute their creation to a historic moment, but one trumps them all (especially as it’s actually true) – The King’s Ginger.
In 1903, newly crowned King Edward VII had taken up a new hobby – driving his open-topped horseless carriage (a Daimler). His royal physician asked Berry Bros & Co (as it was called at the time), who had been supplying the royal family since 1760, to create a liqueur to keep the monarch warm during such drives, and The King’s Ginger was born.
Originally brandy-based with ginger and honey, the recipe has changed over the years, including a tone stage being teaspooned with whisky, so it could be called a whisky liqueur – which helped sales in certain markets.
The current incarnation, created in 2010 when production moved within the Netherlands from Bols to De Kuyper, uses neutral grain spirit with macerated ginger root and lemon oil. After more than a century of production, Berry Bros & Rudd decided to properly market the liqueur, rather than selling via word of mouth, and the new recipe is aimed to appeal to a wider market, with less emphasis on the ginger and more on the citrus element:
Nose: The ginger aromas evolve, starting from ginger ale at first whiff, turning into ginger beer and then intense crystalised ginger. There’s a hint of lemon sherbet in the background,too.
Palate: Sticky in texture with the ginger growing in intensity and the lemon becoming more curd-like in nature.
Finish: The fiery spice slowly dissipates, leaving a mouthcoating lemon sweetness.
Comment: A useful liqueur to have in the cabinet. It’s very warming at room temperature – perfect for taking in a hip flask on a winter walk. Chill and add to Champagne or sparkling wine and you have a spicy version of a classic Kir.
The King’s Ginger is unique, not only for the rich history, but also for being the only readily available full-strength ginger liqueur. Due to its warming nature, much of the marketing has been aimed at suggested serves in the warmer months – it’s proven to be very versatile and the options are many, some of the recipes can be viewed in this downloadable booklet: for summer, just add one part to two parts tonic and you have a refreshing long drink; in winter make a Ginger Mac by mixing half and half with a whisky of your choice; or if you prefer to cook, it makes a great alcoholic addition to ice cream or cheesecake – it is truly a drink for any time of year and occasion.