New ginger ale celebrates Belfast’s heritage in soft drinks

Longbridge Drinks, a recently launched soft drinks business in Northern Ireland, has launched a new Belfast Ginger Ale based on a product originally created in the city in 1825.

Longbridge, named after the bridge that spanned the city’s River Lagan in the 19th century, is a new trading style developed by Papas Minerals, a successful craft producer of small batch soft drinks including award winning cordials.

Belfast Ginger Ale is the result of research work over three years by Wayne Adair, Longbridge founder and a director of Papas Minerals and has been influenced by original recipes from original producers using artesian spring water from Cromac Wells, near Belfast City Centre.

“In keeping with the original Belfast style of ginger ale it is slightly darker than pale varieties,” Mr Adair says. “This comes from the combination of natural ginger flavour and lime juice which would have been used traditionally many years ago. This ensures a subtle flavour and heat, coupled with a fine aroma,” he adds.

The main ingredients are carbonated water, sugar, lime juice from concentrate, extract of ginger, ginger flavour and natural caramel. The new Belfast Ginger Ale is initially available in 20cl bottles, a 30cl bottle is also being planned.

“The new ginger ale is an ideal mixer for gin and especially the craft gins now being distilled in Northern Ireland,” Mr Adair continues. “It revives the heritage of ginger ale processing in Belfast. The first carbonated ginger ale was produced by Dr Thomas Cantrell, a chemist with Grattan and Co in Belfast.

“Cantrell created a rich and dark golden ale for Grattan in 1825. He subsequently set up Cantrell and Cochrane with Henry Cochrane, an established producers of minerals. It was being exported worldwide from Belfast by 1866

A senior employer of Cantrell and Cochrane, WA Ross, left to set up Ross’s Mineral Waters to produce Royal Ginger Ale. In 1890, John McLaughlin, also a chemist, developed a Belfast Style Ginger Ale that contributed to the introduction of Canada Dry Ginger Ale.

“Our Belfast Ginger Ale is designed to revive interest in a soft drink created here back in the 1820s,” he adds.

Papas Minerals, based in Bangor, county Down, is an artisan producer of craft minerals and cordials such as non-alcoholic ginger wine, traditional clove cordial and elderflower cordial. Mr Adair established the small business in 1999 and has won UK Great Taste Awards and Blas na hEireann awards.