Cranberry ginger ale is a winter tradition in Canada. A warming combination of spicy, sour and sweet, it is usually bought in large 2 liter bottles. The commercial version of this red sparkling beverage is mostly just sweet. In contrast, homemade ginger ale is made with the ginger bug for a flavourful and probiotic drink.
A fully flavoured ginger ale
Homemade cranberry ginger ale can be flavoured to your personal taste. Make it without sugar for a tart beverage. Mix with sparkling water for a mild and bright drink.
Here are a few additional flavours that can be added to a 750 mL bottle of cranberry ginger ale.
- For a spicy ginger ale, add 2 tbsp of fresh grated ginger to the bottle. This will float as it ferments, so I recommend straining before serving.
- Mulling spices will give the ginger ale the flavour of a mulled cranberry apple cider. Use 1 stick cinnamon, 3 cloves and 3 allspice per bottle. Or use 1 tsp of ground cinnamon and 1/8 tsp each of ground nutmeg, cloves and allspice.
- My favourite flavour addition is 1 tbsp of orange zest or lemon zest. It adds a fresh dimension to the ginger ale.
- 2¾ cups cranberry juice
- 5 tbsp sugar (see notes for a sugar-free option)
- ¼ cup ginger bug starter (liquid only)
- Optional additional flavours (see above for ideas)
- Mix all the ingredients until the sugar is dissolved.
- Pour into a 750mL bottle that will be able to tolerate the carbonation. Leave it to ferment at room temperature for 3 to 5 days to build up the carbonation.
- Once it's fizzy, refrigerate and enjoy!
- Consumed within a four weeks.
- To make traditional ginger ale, you need to catch a ginger bug starter. It only takes 3-5 days as ginger naturally ferments.
- Ginger bug needs sugar for the initial fermentation. When bottling ginger ale you can skip the sweetener or replace it with your favourite sugar alternative, however, it won’t be as sparkly. Replacing half or all of the cranberry juice with apple juice will provide enough natural sugars to avoid the need for added white sugar. (See photo below.) Either way the resulting beverage will get less sweet as it ferments.
- Finished ginger ale will continue to build up carbonation. Use plastic pop bottles or swing-top bottles that can handle the carbonation pressure.
- Homemade cranberry ginger ale is a very strong flavoured beverage. For a milder drink, mix 50/50 with sparkling water.
This photo is of two different types of ginger ale. The bottle on the left is mixed 50/50 with pressed apple juice and cranberry juice. It doesn’t contain any added sweetener, and the sugar in the juice was enough to carbonate the ginger ale. The bottle on the right is just cranberry juice with white sugar. It has a much stronger tart-sweet flavour than the apple and cranberry ginger ale.