From the latest Rogue Ales newsletter come the following notes of interest:
“How about a cocktail infused with beer... Richard Lilley at New York’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel has created a cocktail named The Black Widow, and while we don’t have exact measurements, we can tell you it is made with blackberry brandy, white crème de cacao, Louis Roederer Champagne and Shakespeare Stout. …A twist on the classic Boilermaker, the Vanilla Bombshell was created by Jeff and Bryce, bartenders at RedBones in Somerville, MA. Proportions and preparations are a snap, drop a shot of Vanilla Stoli into a pint of Rogue Chocolate Stout and enjoy!”
Surprised? You shouldn’t be, because just as the many and varied flavors of beer are extraordinarily versatile in the kitchen, they can also add considerably to the mixologist’s arsenal at the bar. Whether it’s spiking a beer with spirits, as in the Vanilla Bombshell, or using a strongly flavored brew in a classic cocktail like The Black Widow, beer has the right stuff to add a little je ne sais quoi to all sorts of drink combinations.
Historically, brewers and bartenders have been doing this for centuries. One of the early beer cocktails that found favor in the colonies was the Beer Flip, a varied mix of rum and egg and beer, and sometimes port wine and spices, which was heated with a red-hot fireplace poker until it foamed over the sides of the mug and created a hellacious mess for the bartender. (Some wags have suggested that the mess was actually the source of the drink’s popularity!) More recently, we’ve had much cruder, get-drunk-quick variations such as the boilermaker and the submarino.
But beer in cocktail form needn’t be either crude or messy, as the above-noted mixes illustrate. Another I enjoy is a beverage of my own concoction in which a wide-mouthed Duvel glass is rinsed with Pernod, shaken out, and then given an ounce of good gin before being filled by the famous Belgian golden ale. I call it The Green Devil.
Another I created, this for a dinner featuring Compass Box whiskies, is called The Compass Box Cocktail, for which one ounce of Compass Box Peat Monster is combined in an iced shaker with three ounces of smooth, not too hoppy Imperial stout and three shakes of Angostura Bitters, gently stirred, and poured into an iced cocktail glass, garnished with an orange twist and optional maraschino cherry.
Given the thousands of brands and hundreds of beer styles on the market today, it’s pretty obvious that this is a field we have only begun to research.