Bringing Belfast’s original brew back home

When something as refreshingly popular as ginger ale is invented, you can be sure there’ll be a few laying claim to the title of inventor. So it was with ginger ale, a fine tipple that was Belfast-born but whose parentage has been contested over the years…

The stories are as follows: Belfast chemists, Grattan & Co, also manufactured soft drinks and introduced the first carbonated ginger ale. However, Dr Thomas Cantrell, once an assistant at the firm, is also said to have created the rich dark golden ale, which he then supplied through Grattan & Co. He left the company in 1852 to set up his own business, eventually joining forces with soft drinks businessman Henry Cochrane to form Cantrell & Cochrane.

Later, one of Cantrell & Cochrane’s employees, a certain WA Ross, had a dispute with the company, left and set up his own soft drinks company. He started selling Ross’s Royal Ginger Ale and patented the ginger ale-making apparatus. So – can we say he then had ownership of Belfast Ginger Ale..?

Add to the mix a certain Canadian pharmacist, John McLaughlin, who devised the paler dry ginger ale, which is milder in flavour, and it’s enough to tie you in a sailor’s knot.

At Longbridge Drinks Co, however, we lay no claims to inventing Belfast’s famous ginger ale.

What we do declare, however, is a promise to restore this celebrated beverage to the city from whence it came. We thank whoever actually invented it and we hope that those who appreciate a ginger ale will enjoy our fine Belfast blend along with their favourite tipple.

Belfast Ginger Ale. It’s ready to drink, and the perfect mixer for a gin or whiskey.

Just sayin’.

Longbridge Drinks Co: The story behind the name

Once upon a time, a bridge was built across the River Lagan, linking Belfast town on one side with its river and lough, to County Down on the other, with its quays. It had 21 arches and cost £8,000 to build. This was Long Bridge, ‘the mall where all the company of Belfast took the air in a summer’s evening.’

Almost a mile in length, Long Bridge was indeed, the longest on the British Isles and Belfast was famous for it. It was a piece of architecture that brought the city and the people together. Industry flowed beneath, with tugs chugging coal-laden barges down to the linen mills, lowering their funnels as they passed under the arches, while above, the locals promenaded.

Long Bridge endured from 1688 to 1841, when disrepair saw it replaced by the new five-arch Queen’s Bridge, which was officially opened by Queen Victoria herself and linked into Belfast’s beating industrial heartland.

A new era had arrived.

Our name, Longbridge Drinks Co, subsequently recalls this iconic symbol of Belfast’s past – a bridge which connected the city and bolstered trade. A landmark enjoyed by strollers. Rebirthed in a new era - gone but not quite forgotten.