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Ginger ale is a carbonated drink flavoured with ginger. The origins of the drink are from Eastern Europe, where it has been known many centuries. Historically it was available in two varieties: golden ginger ale and dry ginger ale. The original style was golden ginger ale, which is darker in colour and strongly flavoured and believed to have originated in Eastern Europe. Dry ginger ale, is more recent and is believed to have originated in Ireland around 1851. The modern incarnation was patented by John McLaughlin, in Toronto, Canada, who began making his own “McLaughlin Belfast Style Ginger Ale” in 1890. Dry ginger ale quickly surpassed golden ginger ale in popularity; golden ginger ale is a relatively rare drink nowadays.
The original golden ginger ale was naturally carbonated with small bubbles of carbon dioxide, much like real beer. Modern ginger ale usually contains ginger, sugar, and carbonated water. Ginger ale can also contain yeast when carbonated with natural fermentation. Manufacturers can use complex proprietary mixes of spices, fruits and other flavours, so ginger content is often listed on the label as part of a general natural flavouring statement, to preserve secrecy of the used. Lemon, lime and cane sugar are the most common of ingredients, although sometimes peppers are used to provide piquancy.
Ginger ale is a common mixer drink, and finds favour in non-alcoholic cocktails, in part due to its visual resemblance to champagne. It is also a popular home remedy used to prevent or alleviate travel sickness, to relieve upset stomachs and to soothe coughs and sore throats.
See also Ginger Beer