Hard Ginger Tonic

Introduction: Hard Ginger Tonic

About: Justin Tyler Tate is an artist, designer, animator, teacher, jeweler and maker/hacker who produces with thoughts of culture, science and interactivity.

I wouldn't exactly call it ginger beer but it is based on ginger beer recipes. Anyway, try it out if you want a cheap and refreshing alcoholic(~3.5-4.0%) drink for summer afternoons which contains the potent power of ginger!

Typically I start a new batch every week so I get to drink one batch every week (after the first 3 weeks).

Step 1: Ingredients/Tools


  • 1 Kg sugar (or honey)
  • 3 L water (just plain tap water will do)
  • 5 Tbsp ginger (in powder or fresh)
  • 1 packet yeast (different yeasts will produce different results for bubbles and alcohol content)


  • A jar
  • Some cheesecloth or another fabric which can be used for straining.
  • Some plastic bottles with lids
  • A few balloons
  • A large pot for boiling water in

*I usually use regular granulated bakers yeast in this ginger beer which is a bit frowned upon in the home-brewing community but you can opt to try it with any yeast of your choosing: yeast for champagne, beer, or wine.

Step 2: Week #1

During the first week of your ginger tonic production you will have to bring to life your ginger/yeast plant and give it daily feedings.

  1. Combine about a cup of warm water with 1/2c sugar, the packet of yeast and the 5 tbsp of ginger in your jar.
  2. Cover the jar with your cloth and secure anyway you can (I usually use a rubber-band).
  3. Feed your ginger tonic plant 1tbsp of sugar every day for a week.

Step 3: Week #2

With your ginger tonic plant you'll need to strain it into a cloudy syrupy syrup, mix it with more sugar-water and bottle it.

  1. Boil 3 liters of water with about 3 or 4 cups of sugar and allow to cool. (if you don't want to boil it, then you don't have to but boiling will dissolve the sugars and make sure there are no nasties in the water)
  2. Use the cheesecloth to strain the solid matter from the syrup of your ginger tonic plant
    1. Save half of the solid matter.
    2. Use the saved half to repeat the process from week #1 but you won't need to add any yeast.
    3. As you make more batches and keep your yeast alive, the taste of the tonic will develop into a a more complex flavor.
  3. Mix the syrup into the cooled water/sugar mix (tip: if it's hotter than your skin temperature then it's too hot for the yeast)
  4. Fill the bottles you have, leaving a few inches of air at the top, you'll need that next week.
  5. Stretch the balloons you have over the openings of the bottles and make sure they create a good seal.

See you next week!

Step 4: Week #3

Ok, so over the last week your balloons should have filled with carbon dioxide produced by the yeast farts and the bottle should have filled with some alcohol because of the yeast pee so now you are ready for the final ferment.

  1. Remove the balloons from the bottles.
  2. squeeze the bottles so that the liquid comes right to the rim of the opening.
  3. Cap the bottles.
  4. Wait another week.

This could be a messy/dangerous stage; if you really forgot about the bottles they could potentially burst. All you have to do to prevent this is to give the bottle a squeeze every day or so to check how firm it is, once it is doesn't allow you to press in at all (it should be quite hard) you can put it in the fridge, drink it or slowly let out some of the carbon dioxide and let it ferment some more for a less sweet/more bitter tonic.

Step 5: Enjoy.

When you open the bottles for the first time, do it as slowly as possible if you don't want to spray hard ginger tonic everywhere. It doesn't look like much but a lot of carbon dioxide has built up in your ginger tonic making it deliciously fizzy but also slightly explosive. The bottles should take around 10-15 minutes of off-gassing before they can be opened completely. During those 10-15 minutes you'll want to unscrew the cap a bit until you see the tonic fizz up and when it seems calm unscrew a bit more until it subsides and so on until it is just calm.

Pour your summer tonic(it's also good in the winter for keeping your immune system vibrant) into a nice glass with a bit of ice, and a sprig of mint if you like, and enjoy in the sun...or shade...or in the night...maybe at a barbeque, party, porch, wherever and whenever!

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    2 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    So I just entered week 3 on this and am about to set on week 2 and 1 again to keep things moving along. Good instructions, clear and easy.

    Question for you is - I noticed in the two bottles that have been gassing in to the ballons (week two) there is quite a bit of sediment at the bottom of the bottles. Is this an expectation or not? Do you get this? I softly rolled the contents in the bottles after capping them for week 3 but noticed the sediment was already settling back 10 minutes later leaving the liquid quite pale (like the picture of the iced glass) rather than the liquid in your capped bottles.

    Otherwise - can't wait for the end of week 3 so we can give this stuff a try!