Ginger is not a new or innovative ingredient for anyone that regularly dines at restaurants better than fast food chains. It’s widely used in Asian cuisine, and is appreciated for its spicy, herbal character. Ginger beer is one of the most common ingredients of the craft cocktail renaissance, but now the flavor is starting to become more prominent in a more high-proof way.
Ginger liqueurs are not new to the market. Domaine de Canton, which claims to be the world’s first “ultra premium” ginger liqueur, was introduced to the market in 1992. It stuck around until the late ‘90s before being discontinued, and was revived in 2007 after the Asian Fusion culinary trend started to take off in the United States. There was more of a demand than ever for the spicy, pungent liqueur, especially on menus where ginger featured prominently in stir-fries and other dishes.
Few classic, Prohibition-era cocktails employ ginger liqueur because it didn’t really exist at that time, but ginger beer was used widely to cover the putrid flavor of bootlegged spirits. There are still only a few ginger liqueurs on the market, and you’d be hard-pressed to find any other than Domaine de Canton in most liquor stores. Now, though, more competitors like Barrow’s Intense Ginger are barging onto the market with a bolder liqueur that boasts more ginger punch.
If Domaine de Canton has a kiss of ginger flavor, Barrow’s Intense is a punch to the mouth.
On its own, ginger is pretty potent, but it seems as if the minds behind this liqueur somehow managed to intensify its spicy, floral flavor. Batch-made in Brooklyn, an untold amount of fresh ginger goes into each batch. It is likely that the distillery’s neighbors have long since had their senses of smell entirely burned away — that’s how strong this liqueur is.
A shot of Barrow’s Intense Ginger will certainly clear out your sinuses, but will also absolutely leave you craving more. Even with its strong, pungent flavor, ginger liqueur can be used in a variety of boozy applications. Mixed with gin, Champagne, and a bit of lemon juice, it makes the traditional French 75 much more interesting. Poured into a Manhattan or whiskey neat, Barrow’s Intense makes for a pretty damn transcendental cocktail experience—one that will probably leave you wiping your nose a bit after.
Barrow’s Intense is also cropping up on cocktail bar menus across the country. At Hop Sing Laundromat in Philadelphia, one of the bar’s most popular fall cocktails was a Wisconsin Iced Tea, made with velvet falernum, Barrow’s, and Pimm’s No. 1. At renowned French bistro Bar Tabac in New York, Barrow’s Intense is served with lemonade as an aperitif, and mixed with Absolut Pears and fresh lime juice for a “Supearb” cocktail. Also in New York, bartenders at Hell’s Kitchen Mexican restaurant are barrel-aging the spirit as part of the Blame It On Rio, a cocktail made with cachaca, velvet falurnum, and grapefruit bitters.
If you can find it at your liquor store, Barrow’s Intense is an excellent addition to the home bar. More common cocktails, like the Moscow Mule and Dark & Stormy, can also benefit from the punch that ginger liqueur adds, even if you’re already using ginger beer. If you’ve run out of ginger beer and are expecting guests, adding Barrow’s to a bubbly bottle of club soda is the perfect substitute. In fact, it will probably be better than anything you can pick up last-minute at the drugstore, and you can still pour it into your bourbon for an interesting cocktail when you’re all alone.