The Ginger Ale Story
Alcohol SSC Health
Mike Parker

The original variety of ginger ale, commonly referred to as Golden ginger ale, was reportedly invented in the 1850s by an American apothecary named Thomas Cantrell, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A local company, Gratton & Company, and promptly bottled and sold the taste sensation, and included the slogan, "The Original Makers of Ginger Ale" on their bottles.

It wasn’t too long before Americans got into the ginger ale business. Pharmacist James Vernor left an experimental barrel in his barn in 1862, just before joining the Union Army in the Civil War, at least according to the stories. Upon his return in 1866 he cracked open the cask and took the first taste of barrel-aged Golden ginger ale, and the first American brand of ginger ale was born.

Golden ginger ale has a sweet, bubbly texture and a strong ginger punch, but our Canadian neighbors weren’t impressed. Canandian pharmacist John McLaughlin, had started a soda water bottling plant in 1890, and by the turn of the century was experimenting with new flavors to add to his soda water. In 1904 he developed a form of ginger ale that was paler and less sweet than Golden ginger ale. He referred to it as ‘pale, dry ginger ale,’ and in 1907 he was granted a patent for Canada Dry Ginger Ale. Dry ginger ale quickly eclipsed Golden ginger ale in popularity in the U.S., due in part to affinity for mixing with alcoholic beverages.

Ginger ale is also one of the most popular beverages requested on airline flights. Why? Ginger has a long history for curbing nausea, and ginger ale is a popular home remedy for treating motion sickness.

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