Monday, December 23, 2013

Nim Nam {Ginger-Vodka Cordial with Vanilla, Lemon, and Honey}


Years ago on Christmas, my friend Lori passed me a flask filled with deliciousness comprised of candied ginger and white rum. It was smooth, sweet, and spicy. She'd gotten the recipe from mutual friend and avid mixologist Chris McIlroy who called it Nim Nam.


Lori sent me Chris' recipe which involved steeping a particular brand of candied ginger in white rum for several months. I'd been meaning to make it for some time, but the thought of having to wait so long for a sip of that ambrosial liqueur sent me down the instant ginger gratification routes of Dark and Stormies, Sparkling Whiskey Gingerade, and Ginger Rhubarb Bee's Knees. (I like ginger – can ya tell?)


Fast forward to music camp this past summer. My friend Fiona mixed up her version of Nim Nam, which involved freshly grated ginger, vanilla bean, lemon, honey, vodka, and a mere 24 hour steep. She presented us with chilled glasses filled with the golden cordial, ice, and fizzy water. The concoction burst with mellow floral notes, a bit of kicky heat, and just enough sweetness. I begged for the recipe. 


Fiona's Nim Nam uses masses of freshly grated ginger and its juice. Ginger has subtle nuances that can be lost when heated, so I love the bold punch of spice that this version delivers. Meyer lemon zest and juice makes the whole thing taste of sunshine, and honey adds natural sweetness and a pretty, golden hue. The vanilla bean is optional, says Fiona, but it adds a touch of warmth that makes the drink taste comforting and familiar, a like a lemon drop for grown-ups.


The cordial takes only 24 hours to prepare, but the flavors continue to meld as it sits, post-straining, in the fridge for a few days. Don't worry about using a fancy vodka here – the flavorings smooth away any rough edges. (Though if you're a sucker for a pretty bottle, try Reyka or Hangar 1.)


I think of Nim Nam as a wintertime drink, suitable for holiday and New Year's parties, but it also refreshes on a warm summer day. It makes a lovely gift funneled into pretty jars, and I find it to be the perfect after-dinner tipple. (Something else that makes a lovely gift? A stainless steel soda siphon for making your own fizzy water.)


Whatever the weather, serve this cordial in chilled glasses topped with ice and fizzy water.  


Happy holidays.


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Nim Nam {Ginger-Vodka Cordial with Vanilla, Lemon and Honey}

Adapted from Fiona Livingstone

This spicy cordial is made with vodka; Fiona says to use the cheap stuff since the honey, ginger, and vanilla smooth away any rough edges. I went slightly upscale with Reyka; Hangar One is another one I like the taste of on its own. This stuff only gets better as it hangs out in the fridge the first few days after straining. Serve it over ice with an equal amount of fizzy water. And watch out – it goes down a little too easy.

Makes about 5 cups

750 mL vodka 
1/3 cup grated fresh ginger and its juice 
zest and juice of 1 lemon (preferably meyer) 
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped 
1/2 cup mild honey 
1/2 cup boiling water 

In a large jar (1 quart or larger), combine the vodka, ginger, lemon zest and juice, and the vanilla pod and scrapings. Let sit for 24 hours, giving the jar a shake when you think of it. 

Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Stir together the honey and boiling water in a measuring pitcher until the honey is liquified. Stir the honey syrup into the vodka. Pour the Nim Nam into bottles and chill.

Serve the Nim Nam over ice topped with fizzy water. It will keep refrigerated, for at least a month and probably longer.

22 comments:

  1. Hey, I actually have almost everything on hand to make this without venturing out to the store two days before xmas! That is a reward in itself, I think.:) Definitely going to give it a try!

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    1. That's awesome, Eileen! Let me know how you like it!

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  2. that sounds so good I only wish I had the ingredients on hand to make it. Why the fizzy water though versus drinking straight as it sounds very "drinkable" on it's own.

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    1. I find it a little strong on its own, but if you prefer it straight then by all means!

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  3. Hard alcohol is too strong for me but I'll try this with sake - my substitute. Not nearly the same, of course, but it might be good, we'll see!

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    1. Oooh! I bet sake will be superb, Tunie! Let me know how you like it.

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  4. This is the time I leave a comment and don't talk about how behind I am on commenting...save for this acknowledgment of it...ahherrm

    Sweet goodness, this stuff is gorgeous! I've been feeling a similar impatience for infusions lately, so the fact that this only steeps for 24 hours is awesome. And there aren't many wintery flavors that make me happier than ginger and Meyer lemon. (The latter just started showing up at the store, and I bought a bagful and then used 'em all in one night because they were so tiny. Worth it!) 100% with you on adding the vanilla bean too. I can imagine what a lovely warmth it brings to the drink. I've also been looking for a reason to purchase a couple pretty Moscow mule mugs, and I think this might be it. Woo!

    Sending lots of fantastic New Year vibes your way! :) xo

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    1. Heehee! Thanks for the sweet note, Carey! When I posted this, I thought of you and your gingery honey syrup that I made earlier this year - yum! Wishing you the good New Year vibes, too!

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  5. So happy I just found this (you have no idea) ... thanks Alanna!!

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    1. Aw! Thanks, Todd! High praise from the master of boozy deliciousness. :)

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  6. I REALLY want to make this but I don't love vodka. I'm normally more of a whiskey gal. Is there any other liquor I could use? Rum perhaps?

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    1. Hi Megan! I normally don't love vodka either, but the other flavors really smooth it out here. That being said, I bet this would be great made with white rum, too. Let me know how it goes. :)

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  7. I can't wait to try this! Thanks for the recipe and the great post :)

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    1. Aw! Thank you, and you're very welcome, of course. :)

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  8. Hi! This recipe is exciting! it looks SOOOOO delicious! on another note the search bar on your site had never worked for me and I just wanted to let you know... it is possible that this is a problem specific to me, but just in case it didn't work for others also I thought I would let you know. When i type a word in a hit search it just reloads the page I was on.

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    1. Hi Gabby! Thanks for the kind words! Yeah, Blogger's apparently working on a fix for the problem. I'm so sorry! You could try going to the "recipes" page and doing "command F" to search for keywords. Thanks for the heads up. :)

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  9. Please - what is "fizzy water" and if it's something I need an expensive appliance to produce and you advise an acceptable substitute?

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  10. That should read: Can you advise and acceptable substitute?

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    1. Hi jennysue, sorry for the confusion! Fizzy water is just sparkling water. We make our own, but you can of course use bottled sparkling water or club soda. Cheers. :)

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  11. Book of Nimnam on amazon kindle by Bill Mckechnie. If you have a kindle? No problem! You can download the Kindle app onto your computer, laptop, ipad, iPhone or Android device.

    Six short stories about an elf who is taught the morals of life

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  12. I pinned this a long time ago and finally got around to making it last week. Delicious! Thank you for sharing. I'm happy to have found your fab blog.

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    1. Yay! I'm so glad you like it! Thanks for reading, and for the sweet note. :)

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Nice comments make me warm and fuzzy!