A Tribute to Woody (Homemade Ginger Ale Float)

By • May 31, 2011 • 129 Comments

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Author Notes: Vernors Ginger Ale is a Michigan icon ... sweet, gingery, fizzy. It's a golden ginger ale as opposed to a "dry" one and makes the claim of being the oldest surviving ginger ale in the country. Slogans have included "Detroit's Drink", "Deliciously Different" "Barrel Aged, Bold Taste, and "It's what we drink around here". I'm not sure if it's readily available all over the country, but if it is, try it. Served cold, it's refreshing, served hot, it's good for what ails you. Make a shake or float with it ... but if you can't find it, here's a recipe for the ginger syrup and the shake or float. Oh, by the way, "Woody" is the gnome that appears on the can or bottle. - inpatskitcheninpatskitchen

Food52 Review: In any form, ice cream floats are a delightfully lazy route to a happy summer. Here, with one extra step, you get a kicky homemade ginger syrup, lifted by seltzer and bear-hugged by slow-melting vanilla ice cream. It's a fitting ode to a proud Michigan soda pop tradition, made with a handful of ingredients you probably have socked away in your kitchen -- your hot, sticky kitchen. Best go make yourself a float. - A&MA&M

Serves 2

For the ginger syrup

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced peeled, fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Combine all ingredients except the vanilla in a saucepan. bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes until reduced to one cup liquid.
  2. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla and cool and strain.

For the float or shake

  • 6 large scoops great quality vanilla ice cream
  • 1/2 cup of the ginger syrup
  • 3 cups sparkling seltzer water
  1. For a shake: place the ice cream, syrup and seltzer in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into 2 tall glasses and grab some straws.
  2. For a float: place three scoops of the ice cream in each of the 2 tall glasses. Mix the syrup with the seltzer and then pour half over each ice cream filled glass. This time grab the straws and a long spoon!
Jump to Comments (129)

Tags: creamy, delicious, sweet

Comments (129) Questions (2)

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12 days ago tommy g

Does anyone remember Vernor's ice cream bars? I used to buy them in the showroom of the bottling plant on Woodward Avenue back in the early '70s. They were available in a vending machine for ten cents and, to my knowledge, nowhere else. As I recall, the bar was Vernor's-flavored ice cream with a butterscotch coating. Delicious.

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5 months ago Stephanie

I had a late dinner tonight so I decided to make this for a later night snack. It taste really good. I don't like things that are too sweet so this is good for me. I used 1/4 raw sugar instead of white sugar. Paired it with SoDelicious Frozen Coconut Milk and a few banana slices...yummy! Oh, I forget the seltzer water but I don't think it made a big difference.

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5 months ago inpatskitchen

Stephanie..So happy you enjoyed your version...thanks so much!

Stringio

7 months ago Misty Terrell Green

I have lived in Indiana my whole life & for some reason, we always had Vernor's Ginger Ale. Michigan relatives maybe. I love, love, love that stuff. Def. can still get it here.

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7 months ago inpatskitchen

So glad that you can make the float anytime you want! And welcome to Food52!

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8 months ago frog

Verner's is currently owned by Dr Pepper Snapple and the recipe has changed. It now has high fructose corn syrup and artificial ginger flavoring. reed's Ginger Beer would be closer, though not as sweet, to the original Verner's Ginger Ale.

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8 months ago susielou

I grew up in Detroit and went to James Vernor Elementary School; every Christmas and Easter there were huge kegs of Vernors, and all kids were given a glass. The best tour ever was of the Vernor plant, and watching all the bottles go by. At the end of the tour we were given Vernor's ice cream floats. Wonderful!

By the way, another drink from childhood is the brown cow: chocolate ice cream and root beer.

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8 months ago inpatskitchen

So happy that this brought back wonderful memories for you! I too, remember touring the Vernor's plant as a kid. And Vernors is in the shopping cart almost every week!

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about 1 year ago Trena

inpatskitchen you have done it again - This is AMAZING! Simple to make and soooo worth it. You hooked me on your recipes with your delicious fish sandwich and when I saw this was your recipe, I knew I had to give it a try. Thankfully, I doubled the recipe. You obviously love cooking and your recipes really show it. Thanks again for another keeper!

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about 1 year ago inpatskitchen

I'm thrilled you enjoyed this! Thanks so much!

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about 1 year ago Lizthechef

I remember this recipe very well. I'm a ginger ale freak and this rocks.

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about 1 year ago inpatskitchen

Thanks Liz! I must agree...it does "rock"!!

Stringio

about 1 year ago Joanna Bober

I've tried SO many recipes for ginger ale. This is by far the BEST! It was quick and easy, and the end result was nothing short of delicious.

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about 1 year ago inpatskitchen

Thanks so much Joanna! It really is easy and I'm so happy you enjoyed!

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over 1 year ago sofia j. jacobsen

Ginger ale from scratch?? Guess it's possible but I still stand by my favorite VERNERS!!!

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over 1 year ago inpatskitchen

Oh me too sofia. But there are many who can't get Vernors where they live and this is a pretty good "clone"!

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about 2 years ago 80jones

This was delish on a hot summer day. I'm thinking the ginger syrup would make a good general purpose mixer.

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about 2 years ago inpatskitchen

I'm sooo glad you enjoyed this and actually a while back the Food52 people had a cocktail party and used the syrup for Moscow Mules. Their recipe is at the end of the article here:
http://www.food52.com/blog...

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almost 3 years ago everblessed

Just made the syrup tonight and my house smells heavenly. Can't wait to mix it tomorrow. Thank you for the recipe!!!

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almost 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you so much everblessed...so sorry I didn't respond sooner, but I'm still not getting notifications or comments through e-mail. I hope you enjoyed!! ( I was just here to get my recipe too(LOL)

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almost 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you so much everblessed...so sorry I didn't respond sooner, but I'm still not getting notifications or comments through e-mail. I hope you enjoyed!! ( I was just here to get my recipe too(LOL)

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about 3 years ago Sue D

Tried this recipe about a month ago and have been dreaming of making more ever since. This wonderful recipe is simple, refreshing and fantistically bright tasting. I can never again sip commercially available genger ale, this recipe ended that practice. My experience of making and enjoying this amazing beverage was a satisfying adventure!

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about 3 years ago inpatskitchen

I'm so glad you enjoyed Sue D....it's really a hit at our house ( I'm into simple and easy!)

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about 3 years ago sboulton

I'm from Detroit and remember countless trips to the Vernor's Plant on Woodward, with its gleaming copper kettles in the window. The canned stuff they sell now in California doesn't even resemble the original. It was the best, especially when you were sick and Mom made a "Boston Cooler" . Thanks for this, it brings back those wonderful flavors.

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about 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you sboulton! The new concoction isn't as "fizzy" as it once was, I know, but the flavor is still classic!

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about 3 years ago liamoran

This was so amazing. I made it earlier in the week and will make the syrup for a non-alcolic option for my summer dinner party tomorrow! Love it. Good job and congratulations!

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about 3 years ago liamoran

I meant "non-alcoholic". I got so excited about your ginger ale I couldn't type. :)

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about 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you so much liamoran!! It really is a great treat!

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over 3 years ago Oui, Chef

Congratulations! This looks so dang good, can't wait to try it with the kids....I'll be their hero with this recipe! - S

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you so much "Super Dad!" They will love it!

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over 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Congrats! Really happy for your win!!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you ChezSuzanne!

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over 3 years ago nicci

Congratulations!! I LOVE Vernor's. They don't have it in Hawaii but they should!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you...at least now you can make something similar!

Me

over 3 years ago wssmom

It's on for tonight in a tribute to your win! Congrats!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thanks wssmom...let me know

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about 3 years ago wssmom

You know I was sooooo remiss in not letting you know how AWESOME it was! We did the float thing, and everyone raved.

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about 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Oh Thank you wssmom...I'm so glad everyone enjoyed!

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over 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Congrats on a well deserved win! If I weren't on the road, I would be making one of these for myself tonight!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thanks fiveandspice! I might make one myself!

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over 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Oh you definitely should! Gotta celebrate!

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over 3 years ago gingerroot

Cheers and congrats!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you so much gingerroot!!

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over 3 years ago lapadia

Congratulations, and Cheers to Woody!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thanks lapadia...I'll send him your regards!!

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over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Congratulations on your beautiful concoction!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you boulangere.... I may make this tonight in celebration!

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over 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations on the win, this is really a delicious drink.

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thanks...it really is!!

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over 3 years ago nogaga

Congratulations! This sounds like such a winning summer drink!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Summer AND Winter!! Thanks so much..

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over 3 years ago Panfusine

Congratulations!! HAVE to try this out..

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thanks Panfusine...please let me know what you think..

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over 3 years ago GiGi26

Congratulations!!!!! It's good to be from Detroit!! Thanks Woody for inspiring her!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you ma'am....guess what's for dessert next time you visit?

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over 3 years ago Lizthechef

Congratulations! We drank Vernors when I was a student at Kalamazoo College - great for hangovers. Love your recipe!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you...I never thought of the hangover thing...I'll have to try it!!

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over 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

congrats!! so glad for your win!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thanks mrslarkin...love your burger on the Whole Foods site!

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over 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Oh thank you!!! Hope some people will head over there and vote for me!! My burger and your float would make a fine Father's Day meal!!

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over 3 years ago gingerroot

Now that is a great idea, mrslarkin!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

I agree!

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over 3 years ago LC Rebbe

I love this recipe because it is inspired, yet "old fashioned." A real winner in my book!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you so much !

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over 3 years ago WinnieAb

Yum...I love ginger and this sounds delicious.

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thanks WinnieAb....it really is!

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over 3 years ago gingerroot

This sounds really amazing! Congrats on being a finalist - I can't wait to try this!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you gingerroot...please let me know how you like it if you try

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over 3 years ago Pat in SoCal

My grandfather in Detroit used to make this for us when we were little...but he called them "Boston Coolers". Does anyone else know that name ?

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

You're right Pat.. they are known as Boston Coolers around here too...but I've read that a Boston Cooler refers to other floats and shakes around the country also and didn't want to confuse anyone

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over 3 years ago sfmiller

Fun recipe that evoked major food memories. Growing up in central Michigan, I put away dozens of Vernor's floats as a kid.

What we called a Boston Cooler was Vernor's and vanilla ice cream blended like a milk shake--which is darn good too.

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over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I've got 2 cans of Vernor's hidden away in my fridge at work . . . . oh lucky me! Congratulations on your finals and thank you!

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over 3 years ago Meatballs&Milkshakes

This looks great! I made some ginger simple syrup to sweeten some iced tea, but I'll use the leftovers to do this later! Congrats!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thanks!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

I guess the glitch in the replies still isn't fixed, so thanks again all for your kind words!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you so much boulangere! This was fun to make!

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over 3 years ago SouffleBombay

I LOVE ginger, and have never attempted to make a ginger syrup - lovely idea! Good luck!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thanks lapadia..when Vernors was sold some years back Woody the Gnome was removed from the bottle/can, but I can assure yu he's back now!

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over 3 years ago lapadia

Congrats and luck to you, ipk! BTW - Amazon.com link to Vernors, which I have seen without the gnome, however if you scroll down on Amazon's page you will see reference him: http://www.amazon.com/Vernors...

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over 3 years ago cheese1227

What a fabulously impressive combination!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thanks!

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over 3 years ago ENunn

Bravo.

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you so much ENunn!

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over 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

I'm not familiar with Vernor's - not sure they make it west to California, but now I want to try it. So I'll definitely be making your recipe. I love floats with ginger ale - takes me right back to my childhood! Many congrats and good luck!!

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over 3 years ago Pat in SoCal

Oh yes...we have it in SoCal. It's the best. The bubbles really go up your nose.

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

You're never too old for a ginger ale float...thank you ...let me know how you like it

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over 3 years ago Peter

While Peter no longer works for Food52 he still thinks up ways to make the website better.

Sorry all, I don't have anything insightful to say -- I just need to test something in the recipe comments. That said, congrats on making the finals -- looks delish!

Lorigoldsby

over 3 years ago lorigoldsby

Congrats on your EP...good luck. We also like Vernor's. You described the different taste quite accurately!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you lorigoldsby ( and I'm thrilled that you and your Mom liked the Red Pepper aioli)

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over 3 years ago Bevi

This is great! I can think of lots of other uses for that ginger syrup aw well.

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

The syrup is great just over ice cream too!

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over 3 years ago ingrid.goodman1

I just ordered 18 bottles from Michigan. The shipping cost more than soda. Can not find in Manhattan. So excited to try ginger syrup recipe. Attended James Vernor elementary school in Detroit.

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

I'm always happy when people say they love Vernors..Can you ask your grocer to get some for you?

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you very much Pam!

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over 3 years ago midnitechef

Being a Canadian, Canada Dry is the only "real" pop I can find in the South, unless I come across Coke/Pepsi made in Mexico, where they still use real cane sugar, not corn syrup.

This recipe may well be a great replacement for those times Canada Dry can't be found.

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

You may like this better than Canada Dry...sweeter, more ginger

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over 3 years ago Hilarybee

Michigan take over =) I'm going to try take this to a dinner party tonight. Too hot to bake anything, so this will be lovely. Vernor's is my favorite and I can't stand to see the shelves stocked with Canada Dry. What is that?!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

I know...Canada Dry has nothing on Vernors!

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over 3 years ago mariaraynal

Michigan gal reporting for duty! Vernors is a legend here, and I'm so happy to see this great recipe as a finalist. A few years ago, my friends and I glammed it up a bit by mixing vodka, Vernors and a big squeeze of lime. Great summer cocktail. Congratulations inpatskitchen!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Boy does that sound great!!.Will try it soon!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thanks so much!! I'm thrilled!

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over 3 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

PS Where's Rivka? She brought Vernors to DC for her wedding!!

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over 3 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Vernors! OMG Love that stuff. When we drive back to MI (my husband's home, I'm from NW Ohio, so still Vernors territory) we bring back CASES!
I am so making this.

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thanks...a lot cheaper than the drive back

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thanks everyone!! There must be a glitch in the system because my personal thanks are showing up all over the place. I'll keep trying but in the meantime I'm surprised, excited and so flattered!!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

must have been a glitch in the system..so you get extra thanks above!

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over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

There's that spoon again!

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over 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations, I ca't wait to try it.

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over 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Congratulations! I so, so want this right now! It's stinkin' hot out there and perfect weather for ice cream drinks. And I will flip over anything that has ginger syrup in it. I can't wait to give it a try!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you....you must make a trip home and have a coney and a float!!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thanks...take a trip back and grab a coney and a float!

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over 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Yummmm!! congratulations!!

Junechamp

over 3 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

This sounds great. Must try it!

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over 3 years ago GiGi26

Congratulations!!!

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over 3 years ago elizabeth c

Oh what a great idea! We have some Vernor's in the fridge right now!

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over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Love this! Congratulations to you.

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over 3 years ago wssmom

Yay, you're a finalist!!

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over 3 years ago EmilyC

Congratulations -- this looks great!

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over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Yay! Congrats on being a finalist!

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over 3 years ago lastnightsdinner

Vernor's! Ah, you're making me homesick :) Congrats - this sounds great!

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over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

My Dad loved the original Vernor's! Thanks for the facsimile. I'll make a batch when he visits later this summer.

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thanks hardlikearmour..Hope your Dad enjoys!

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over 3 years ago wssmom

This is amazing! I have never been to Michigan by the Spouse swears by it! Thanks for posting!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

If you can't find Vernors try this.. I know I don't have the 19 ingredients that Vernors swears by, but it really is a reasonable facsimile...is your husband from Michigan?

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over 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Fantastic!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank you sdebrango........as my Dad always says.."Try it, you'll like it"

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over 3 years ago Sagegreen

Love ginger. This sounds great!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thanks Sagegreen...I think the other half drank his in a minute flat!!