Distilled: Crabbie’s offers alcoholic ginger beer, and it’s glorious

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From the August 21, 2014 edition

Ginger beer has quickly become a popular beverage the last few years. Nearly everywhere has a Moscow mule (or Kentucky mule, made with bourbon instead of vodka) on their cocktail menu. And for good reason — ginger beer is a refreshing mixer with a tasty flavor profile. Now let me blow your mind, ginger beer fans.

There’s an alcoholic version of ginger beer from Crabbie’s that’s going to make those ubiquitous ginger-beer cocktails even more popular.

Obviously, folks will go ape over the option to make an even stronger cocktail. Woo girls (and boys), I’m looking at you. But that’s not why you should be excited about Crabbie’s alcoholic ginger beer.

See, Crabbie’s Original, the British company’s signature product among the sundry of flavors, is quite possibly the best ginger beer I’ve ever tasted — alcoholic or not. In fact, only the slightest hint of alcohol (4.8 ABV) comes through.

Crabbie’s Original has just the right amount — read, minimal — of sweetness, countered by a healthy ginger bite. But again, the bite isn’t overpowering, just enough to round out the beverage. Simply put, if you like ginger beer, or any refreshing carbonated beverage, you’ll be over the moon about Crabbie’s Original.

Recently, Crabbie’s introduced a second version of their product, Spiced Orange, into the Columbus market. While Spiced Orange isn’t as superb as the Original (which has been available here for two years), it’s not bad either. My lone quibble with Spiced Orange isn’t the flavoring — a minimal citrus note — it’s that it doesn’t have the body of the Original. Spiced Orange seems a little watered down in comparison.

While simply sipping a Crabbie’s out of the bottle is more than acceptable, the best way to enjoy it is in a simple cocktail. Of the spirits I mixed with both varieties, the winner was, wait for it, Jameson. (You’re shocked, I know.) Crabbie’s masks the booze — be careful — but the Irish whiskey and ginger beer blend together beautifully. Add a lime if so desired.