I propagated a few store-bought lemongrass stalks a few years ago when I first moved into my house, and every year since then, they’ve been the gift that keeps on giving, year round. Each little lemongrass plant (which began its life as a clump of three rooted stalks) has grown into a wild-looking shrub with dozens of thick, juicy, citrusy stalks. And maybe I’m biased, but I feel homegrown lemongrass far outflavor the ones you can find in the store (especially since you can use the lemongrass leaves as well).
Needless to say, we make a lot of meals with lemongrass around here. My husband is king of marinated lemongrass chicken, and I like to drop a few stalks into the broth for my slow-cooked Vietnamese pulled pork tacos. In the winter, we’re all about lemongrass-infused tea. In the summer (and with our heat wave this past week), we do flavored fizzy drinks with a versatile lemongrass-ginger syrup. It’s lemony and spicy and wakes the senses. It also adds a little (or a lot of) zing to iced teas, hot teas, margaritas, mojitos, Prosecco, and Dark and Stormy cocktails.
But on most afternoons, you’ll find me on our sunny porch with two jars by my side: a jar of lemongrass-ginger syrup and a jar of lemongrass-ginger ale on the rocks!
Fresh Lemongrass-Ginger Ale
Makes 1 quart syrup (12 to 16 servings)
For the Simple Syrup
6 cups water
3 cups sugar
1/2 pound ginger, sliced crosswise into matchsticks
2 stalks lemongrass (at least 8 inches each), cut into 3-inch segments and smashed with the flat side of a knife
For the Lemongrass-Ginger Ale
1/4 to 1/3 cup lemongrass-ginger syrup (per glass)
Soda/seltzer/carbonated water (to fill)
Squeeze of lime
To make the simple syrup, combine the water, sugar, ginger, and lemongrass in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and maintain a hard, rapid simmer, stirring occasionally until the liquid reduces to almost half, about 1 hour.
Strain the syrup and discard all the solids. Pour the syrup into a jar and refrigerate.
To make the lemongrass-ginger ale, add the syrup and your choice of fizzy water to a glass. Stir to combine, add ice if desired, and garnish with a fresh squeeze of lime juice before serving.