Ginger Ale and Other Elixirs

Kage Baker was an experienced bronchitis victim. She had all sorts of DIY solutions to the periodic revolt of her bronchii. Most of them revolved around bed rest, books and ginger ale.

She had relied heavily at one time on wine coolers. However, I finally did some research, and discovered that while they might numb and cheer her, the tannins in the wine were wreaking havoc on her sinuses. So, regretfully, wine coolers were scratched from the list. She replaced them with ginger ale.

Ginger ale was high on her home cures list. She tried every kind she came across. For Kage, Canada Dry was the starting point, not the final solution; she actually found it rather weak. She loved Schwepp’s more – it was largely reserved for grown-up cocktails in our parents’ house, which made it even more desirable: that and its sibling Tonic Water and Bitter Lemon were High Caste Fancy Sodas.

Kage became a conniseusse of ginger ale. She adored fizzy drinks anyway:  Coca Cola was her daily tipple, while ginger ale was more of a medicinal brandy.  She liked Hansen’s Organic, when she was feeling mellow, but usually it didn’t have enough ginger. On the opposite end of the spectrum, she liked Cock & Bull Ginger Beer  but it was too strong.

Vernor’s was also originally filched from adult mixer shelves, and Kage preferred it to many others because it wasn’t too sweet. Seagram’s she ranked with Canada Dry, a mixer not really meant to be drunk on its own. Boylan’s made a nice one, close to a ginger beer original; and Kage could get it freshly brewed when we were in Marin.

She tried singletons, exotics and one-offs wherever she found them. Things with inexplicable names like Queen’s Blue, and Fever Tree and Buffalo Root ; and Sussex, that came in white-glazed ceramic bottles like miniature milk jugs. Lots of the micro breweries that spring up like faerie rings all over California also try their hands at ginger ale and root beer – she tried lots of pale gold glasses of mystery ginger ales,  in brew pubs where we stopped once and never again on the road …

Reed’s Ginger Ale she declared almost perfect, and  it provided an entire universe of gingered potables and comestibles. The Ginger Ale comes in 6 flavours – Original, Extra Ginger, Premium Ginger, Raspberry, Cherry, and Spiced Apple. The Extra Ginger Ale could probably be used to stencil designs on your soft palette. The others are just unspeakably scrumptious. But the company also makes Ginger Ice Cream, Crystallized Ginger (the best topping for molasses cookies), Nausea Relief (ginger root and B6 – stops hangovers in their tracks) and Ginger Chewy Candy. The candy is not only delicious, it’s a sure-fire cure for motion sickness.

Thomas Kemper became her final favourite, when the radiation and chemotherapy made everything taste weird and bad. It’s a small, wonderful soda micro brewery. They make root beer, vanilla cream, black cherry and of course: ginger ale. In her last year, she drank that damn near every day – I drove miles and miles in every direction but straight into the Pacific to find it for her. I’d have driven into the waves if there’d been a reliable liquor store down there … and I’m kind of surprised that, in weird little Pismo Beach, there wasn’t.  I did find it in the chandlery shop at the Avila Pier, along with boat cleats and transom jacks and charts. Everything needed, apparently, to sail into the west …

I find I can no longer stand the taste of ginger ale.

That makes it a little harder to get through the bronchitis this week, but Earl Grey tea also works wonderful well. And to me, it’s a huge comfort beverage; I quite live on it during Dickens Fair. It works miracles for bronchitis, too. So does chicken-and-variable broth, with which Kimberly has kept me well-supplied. I am still hacking out my lungs at intervals, but they are increasingly longer intervals – and I am still breathing, so obviously enough oxygen is making it through the oatmeal in my lungs.

I even went out on an errand. And I may stay upright and awake all day. So, even without the healing powers of ginger ale, I am getting better.

And now, I think – it’s time for more tea.