As the world of craft beer and spirits continuously expands, so does our creativity with what to do with them. Beer and liquor have always had a pretty symbiotic relationship behind the bar, for instance: a beer and a shot.
The “Boilermaker” is the go to for many bartenders after work, not looking to make any decisions and just wanting to wind down. From there, we grew to mixing other spirits like Jameson and Bailey’s with our favorite stout – Guinness, for the ever-popular “Irish Car Bomb.” While I wouldn’t consider this to be a beer cocktail, it did seem to point us in the direction of the path that we have taken.
A couple of years ago, beer started to take the place of other effervescent beverages to expand, lengthen, and enhance cocktails. Although alcoholic, it can help to tone down or amp up flavors already mixed in the glass. What’s even more convenient and cost efficient is being able to pull a beer from a draft line. Unlike using a bottle of soda or sparkling wine, your amount of effervescence and flavors won’t be lost because they are not openly exposed to oxygen.
“Beer Cocktails” can be broken down to three pretty simplistic groups. Cocktails composed of mixing two beers together, mixing beer with non-alcoholic liquids, and the addition of beer into a liquor cocktail. All have their place and time and are showing up all over the map.
Many of us have tried the Black and Tan made with a stout beer and pale ale, or a Black Velvet with stout and champagne, but what about a Chocolate Covered Banana? In Charleston, SC, craft beer bar Closed for Business is known for this half and half cocktail made with Young’s Double Chocolate Stout and Well’s Banana Bread Beer. Rich, decadent, and it can definitely take the place of dessert.
From there we move a little out of our comfort zone with simple additions to beer. The most popular of these being the “Manmosa,” which is indeed a take on our favorite brunch cocktail, the Mimosa, using a light beer in the lager family and adding fresh squeezed orange juice. Feeling frisky? Try a Belgian Mimosa at The Terminal. Rich Belgian ale pairs marvelously with citrus. Rich, yet refreshing.
Then we really start to shake things up. The first time I had a beer cocktail was after stumbling into Sylvain, located in the French Quarter in New Orleans, and having a “Table Tennis,” made with Pimm’s No. 1, Hitachino White Ale and citrus. It was mildly bitter, perfectly tart and the white ale really rounded it out to make it a showstopper. Granted, snuggling up to the bar at Sylvain is really a treat in and of itself, but that cocktail is really something special. If you’re not venturing quite that far away – check out the “Snow White,” at Article 14 in Atlanta. Arianne Fielder’s take on the classic cocktail, the “Bee’s Knees,” with Ford’s gin, Berentzen Apple, honey, lemon and Clementine White Ale.
If you’re sticking close to home, come check out the “Falling Up,” a recent fall addition at Easy Bistro. It is beckoning the fall weather to come out with rye whiskey, apple brandy, ginger syrup, lemon and Palm Amber Ale. And don’t forget to try the “Belgian Mimosa” next time you’re brunching at The Terminal.
Until next time, happy drinking!
Laura Kelton is a recent graduate of UTC and currently runs the bar program at Easy Bistro & Bar. Feel free to reach out to her by email with any questions, comments or requests. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.