Ginger ales come in two varieties: golden ginger ale and dry ginger ale. Golden ginger ale, dark colored and strong flavored, is the older style. Dry ginger ale was developed during Prohibition when ginger ale was used as a mixer for alcoholic beverages as the strong flavor of golden ginger ale was undesirable. Dry ginger ale quickly surpassed golden ginger ale in popularity, and today, in 2008, golden ginger ale is an uncommon, and usually regional, drink. Vernors, Blenheim, Chelmsford, and Red Rock are brands of golden ginger ale, while Canada Dry, Schweppes and Seagram's are major brands of dry ginger ale.
Ginger ale occupies a small niche in the soda market. While vending machines and soda fountains rarely contain ginger ale, the drink is a staple on supermarket shelves, in bars, and on airlines.
Vernors is a flavored golden ginger ale aged for four years in oak barrels before bottling. It was the first U.S. soft drink, originating in 1866, although it was modelled on imported Irish ginger beers. In Detroit, Michigan, a drink made with vanilla ice cream and Vernors ginger ale is called a Boston cooler. The name is not taken from Boston, Massachusetts, where this combination is unknown, but from an establishment on Boston Boulevard in Detroit where it is said to have been invented.
Blenheim is a golden ginger ale made in South Carolina; unlike most other brands, it is available in several degrees of spiciness: Old #3 Hot, #5 Not as Hot, #9 Diet, and #11 Ginger Beer.
Dry ginger ale is also sold with a mint flavoring added. Popular brands of mint ginger ale include Tom Tucker Southern Style, and Cott (which no longer produces this flavor). Some mint ginger ale brands have an artificial green color added, while others are clear in color. Recently, Canada Dry has come out with a line of ginger ale mixed with green tea.
Some manufacturers have produced fruit-flavored ginger ales, including raspberry, cranberry and grape flavored versions of Schweppes.