Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Vernor’s Ginger Ale

It is often claimed that ginger ale was first developed in Ireland by the American apothecary Dr. Thomas Cantrell around 1850, but drinks bearing the same name were being advertised as early as 1818.

One of the drinks inspired by Cantrell was Vernor’s, the 1866 creation of Detroit pharmacist James Vernor. Over 148 years ago, James Vernor served the first glass of Vernor’s in his pharmacy at 235 Woodward Avenue in Detroit.

Higby and Stearns Drug Store was where young James Vernor has his first job as an errand boy. Vernor stayed with Higby and Stearns until the age of 19, when he enlisted in the 4th Michigan Calvary.

He was discharged in 1865 and return home to open a drugstore at 235 Woodward Avenue.

Vernor began experimenting with a formula for ginger ale prior to leaving for The Civil War. Upon returning from the war, he opened a wooden cask of his extract and found the taste he had hoping to discover. The secret combination of ingredients, along with four years of aging in wooden casks during the Civil War, perfected his ginger and gave it the ‘deliciously different’ flavor.

Over the years a whole collection of Vernor’s cold drink concoctions have been created. Favorites include the Boston Cooler (Vernor’s and vanilla ire cream) and the White Cow (Vernor’s and milk).

By 1895 the drugstore had become of a more general store, and Vernor’s Ginger Ale had become a household name in Detroit as distribution reached many local stores.

Almost every pharmacy had a soda fountain from the 1890s to the late 1950s. The allure of Vernor’s drink had become legendary in the city and sales were growing rapidly.
Vernor’s Ginger Ale
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