Say Bundaberg (Five Times, Quickly): A New Drink for When You're Not Drinking

"Happy Birthday! Watcha doing?" my sister texted. "Making Moscow Mules, without the stupid copper mugs," I replied. "One of our faves," she said. "But we like the copper."

I admitted calling the mugs stupid because I didn't have any, and she told me Bundaberg won her taste test. Bundaberg? I'd never heard of it, but the name was certainly fun to say. BUNDA-berg.

A quick info search revealed that Bundaberg Ginger Beer is imported from Australia, and has a minor cult following. I looked for it everywhere for two months, then found it twice on the same day: in Fresh Market, and in that place for all things soda pop, Rocket Fizz in Rice Village.

Bundaberg is indeed the best ginger beer I've ever tried, with a jolt of ginger and a minimal use of cane sugar, rather than palate-dulling high-fructose corn syrup. It did not win my Moscow Mule taste test, because vodka is boring and the cocktail needs a boost from a key ingredient in most ginger beers -- capsaicin, the stuff of hot chilis and riot-busting pepper spray. I'll stick with Cock 'n' Bull.

However, Bundaberg contains yeast, which gives it a taste of beer beer as well as ginger beer. With the low amount of sweetness, it's the kind of drink I can nurse for a while, and a second one doesn't cause a sugar crash.

For this reason, I think that Bundaberg is a perfect drink for designated drivers, and anyone else who does not want alcohol at a particular moment. The container itself looks like a beer bottle, and while asking for a ginger ale seems lame in a social situation, it's no problem saying, "I'll have a Bundaberg, please!"

If you drink a Bundaberg, make sure you invert the bottle before opening it, as it contains residual bits of ginger and spice. They're too small to affect the texture, but big enough to add that Bundaberg zing. You may want to keep a few bottles around for non-drinking guests, but be forewarned that you may finish them off before visitors arrive.

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