Ginger is God’s way of forgiving greed. After all, it facilitates the digestive process, relieving indigestion and nausea. So just as we gluttons can gorge ourselves while relying on ginger to come to the rescue, we bona fide boozers can knock ’em back with the knowledge that a little Zingiber officinale will help keep our livers in the pink. And these days — since impatience, too, is among our many vices — we don’t even have to wait for the morningafter tea to steep; ginger is cropping up in our very cocktails.
Soho Iced Tea at Grafton Street
Not that gingered tipples are anything new. Londoners, those long-time lushes, have been sipping Stone’s Original Green Ginger Wine — a golden apéritif made with ground ginger and raisins; think mead, but lighter and spicier — since the mid 18th century. Having recently had my first revelatory sip at Abba, a superb Asian-Med spot in Orleans, I returned from the Cape with a missionary’s zealous conviction that Everybody Must Get Stone’s. Granted, not everybody sells it — in fact it’s rather hard to find — but you can score a bottle for $11.99 at Blanchard’s (103 Harvard Avenue, Allston, 617.782.5588). Similarly, the yummy ginsengand- honey-laced Canton Ginger Liqueur supposedly descended from an ancient Chinese concoction (it’s no longer readily available, so if you happen across a bottle, snap it up). And of course, there’s the Dark and Stormy, the decades-old Bermudan classic to whose origins the distillers of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum lay claim. The recipe is refreshment itself, if not simplicity itself: the blend of rum, ginger beer, and lime sounds easy enough to prepare until you consider that the ultimate garnish is a waterfront view. So unless you happen to hold some sweet real estate, skip the self-bartending and hightail it down to a harborside bar.
Actually, what’s brewing at one such establishment, the Intrigue Café (Boston Harbor Hotel, 70 Rowes Wharf, Boston, 617.856.7744), is no storm but just good old green tea, which is mixed with Chopin Vodka in a glass containing muddled mint and ginger syrup. Called the Natural ($10), it’s got antioxidants out the yin-yang thanks to every single ingredient — including the ginger, excluding the booze. A round of these, and you’ll be staving off flu bugs as well as the tummy troubles accompanying hangovers. Drinking: good and good for ya!
Speaking of tea — well, the Soho Iced Tea ($9) at Grafton Street (1230 Mass Ave, Cambridge, 617.497.0400) doesn’t contain any. There’s no room for restorative liquids in this over-the-top, vaguely Nuevo Latino twist on the Long Island iced tea, which instead boasts pisco (basically a South American brandy), cachaça (the sugarcane liquor used in caipirinhas), dark rum, vodka, and a float of Grand Marnier, along with sour mix, fresh lime juice, and ginger-spiked simple syrup. We concede ginger’s health benefits may be somewhat lost in this awesomely toxic translation — unless, perhaps, you down a sufficient number of them for its effects to register? We say give it a shot (no pun intended), and throw in a couple orders of those Buffalo chicken tenders ($8.95) while you’re at it. If your stomach isn’t struggling to resettle in some other body part by morning, then you can rest assured ginger is a vicehound’s wonder drug.