February 16, 2009

Dispatches from New Mexico: Tripping on Ginger

New Mexico Flag ripped over ginger beer bottles

New Mexico has an alarmingly high number of natural & health food markets including the standards like Whole Foods and Wild Oats, the smaller local varieties as well as the international Talin Market. Between Albuquerque and Santa Fe I’ve been to half a dozen different markets in the week and a half that I’ve been here, and the combined population of these two cities is less than that of San Francisco. Because of this easy access, the state is bursting at the seams with an unprecedented variety of ginger beer. The New Age hippies and their younger counterparts – the “dreamcatching yoga greenies” –  must have developed a bit of a ginger habit. The thing I can’t seem to wrap my brain around is what are they doing with the stuff? I’ve yet to stumble across a single bottle of Goslings – or any top shelf dark rum for that matter – so they can’t be using it for Dark and Stormies? Are these health nuts just drinking the stuff straight? A prospect I’ll never understand – and one, that personally, is a bit offensive. Could they be wasting away their afternoons stumbling over tumble weeds in the high desert tripping on Moscow Mules?

The ugly truth – that no one in New Mexico wants to talk about much less admit – is that they are creating a generation of ginger addicts. And these are not even civil ginger addicts – hipsters who waste their afternoon at a downtown bar with Dark and Stormy in one hand and and an iPhone in the other as they update their Facebook status letting everyone know they just botched another job interview. No these are full blown ginger addicts tripping late into the night and occasionally stumbling onto the set of the David Letterman Show half dazed and spouting off about their upcoming hip hop music career. Side note: If your ginger dealer ever tells you he just sold the same stuff to Joaquin Phoenix either pass or clear your calendar for the next three days.

While the ginger epidemic has yet to make it’s way into the political conversation at either the state or national level, local police blotters around Rio Rancho have started to publish reports of young teenagers experimenting with Reed’s Premium Ginger Brew – which is neither premium nor in my opinion deserving to be linked with other ginger beers.

The sad thing about the ’09 ginger epidemic is that the definitive events have certainly not yet occurred. Inevitably some poor soul who can’t get top grade ginger beer will turn to it’s cheaper and more readily available bastard cousin ginger ale. There have even been isolated reports of ginger chemists who are trying to pass off Sprite with a splash of Coke as a perfectly reasonable substitute for a good high ball of ginger.

But to hell with what those bastards in Washington say; a good trip on ginger, Goslings, and a wedge of lime can awaken the human spirit like few things in this world. In fact the only thing that worries me about the unhealthy obsession I’ve developed with ginger is where it may eventually lead – is ginger beer just a gateway to the next harder substance? And what will that be? Word on the street is Clamato is the new ginger….but I’ll save that for another story.

Main Roots Ginger Brew

An assortment of Ginger Beer I've picked up in New Mexico. From Left to Right [Schwepps Ginger Beer, Jamaican Ginger Beer, The Ginger People's Ginger Beer, Fentimans Ginger Beer, Main Root Ginger Beer, Goya Ginger Beer, Vita Malta Ginger]

This guys been knocked back ginger all day long

The local La Montanita co-op carries a few flavors of ginger

Talin Market...good food supplies from all over the world

More than likely this can of Chelada was left by a dreamcatching yoga greenie

More of my pictures from New Mexico available Flickr


  1. Lefty on

    Hmm… so this Clamato stuff looks pretty legit. Unfortunately with a name that seems far too similar to Beer with Clams…I just can’t get myself to want to try it.

  2. nancy on

    Abe, nice article…….. very clever writing and photos. Where did you get all this talent? It must be from my side!

  3. DoubleA on

    if there is one thing Canada ever contributed to the world of cocktails (besides Rye) is Clamato
    Caesar beats bloody mary every time

  4. George on

    After a long relationship with wine and other booze, I’ve taken alcohol out of my diet and started sampling ginger beers as a substitute. Anyone know if there is a tasting chart I can use to rate the different complexities of each I try? Similar to a wine tasting chart.