Beer cocktails can be every bit as complicated — or every bit as accessible — as traditional cocktails. For a handful of folks in charge of selling you drinks behind a bar, be they bartenders, brewers, or distillers, beer cocktails are worth a shot.
The following is a selection of beer cocktails that beverage directors from Brooklyn to San Francisco are incorporating into their offerings. Whether the beer is used as a bittering agent or main ingredient, these concoctions are worth some exploration.
New Jack Screwdriver
An IPA cocktail featuring fruit-forward hop flavors and aromas with unaged apple brandy.
1 oz of New Jack apple brandy
8 oz of New England-style IPA
A dash of Angostura bitters
A dash of simple syrup (to taste)
Instructions: Fill a highball glass with ice. Add Applejack, bitters, and simple syrup. Top with New England-style IPA (such as Interboro Spirits & Ales’ Mad Fat Fluid IPA), and garnish with a grapefruit zest.
A Manhattan-style beer cocktail made with rye bourbon, sweet vermouth, and a high-gravity IPA.
4 oz Bulleit Rye Bourbon
2 oz sweet vermouth
2 oz bitter, high-gravity IPA (recommendations: Green Flash West Coast IPA; Bell’s Two Hearted IPA; Other Half IPA)
1 brandied cherry
Instructions: Fill your martini glass with ice and set aside to chill. You want your glass cold to preserve the carbonation of the beer. In a mixing glass, add four ounces of Bulleit Rye Bourbon, two ounces of sweet vermouth, and shake. Strain into your chilled martini glass and top with two ounces of your favorite bitter IPA. Garnish with a brandied cherry.
Tom Mix Wash
An herbal, spicy beer cocktail featuring rye, ginger beer, pilsner, and mint.
1 oz straight rye whiskey (Old Overholt)
1 oz good, spicy ginger beer (D&G, q, Barritt’s)
8 oz Pilsner beer
1 sprig of mint
Instructions: In a double old-fashioned glass (10–12 oz tumbler), pour whiskey and ginger beer, top with pilsner, and garnish with mint sprig.
A beer and sherry cocktail featuring tropical flavors and Berliner-style Weisse beer.
1 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
.5 oz Hamilton’s Pot Still Jamaican Rum
.5 oz Plantain Syrup
.25 oz Lemon
2 oz Bell’s Berliner Weisse
Instructions: Shake sherry, plantain syrup, lemon juice, and Berliner Weisse in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a highball glass with crushed ice. Garnish with mint.
Mint and milk stout meet coffee liqueur in this creamy beer cocktail.
4 candy canes broken into chunks, plus 1 for garnish
1 bottle St. George Coffee Liqueur
1 bottle Milk Stout (recommended: Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout)
Instructions: Put crushed candy canes into a bottle of St. George coffee liqueur two days before the drink is served. Shake the bottle once or twice a day to ensure infusion. Strain before using. Measure out two ounces of the infused liqueur, and pour into a pint glass. Top with beer and enjoy!
Beer Cocktail #18
The latest in an ongoing series of beer cocktails at ThirstyBear Brewing Company; this one features the brewery’s Tolstoy’s Inkwell Russian Imperial Stout.
ThirstyBear Tolstoy’s Inkwell Russian Imperial Stout
Xocolatl Mole Bitters
Instructions: Shake ingredients with ice and strain into glass, creating a frothy head.