Mixologists Embrace Beer for Creative Cocktails

Why mixologists are embracing beer as a key element in the latest cocktails. Drinkers are embracing the new creations, too.

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Ever chug an Irish Car Bomb? If so, that St. Patty’s Day stunt (dump a shot of Bailey’s and a shot of Jameson’s in a pint of Guinness) may make you a pioneer of sorts. Beer cocktails are all the rage, and they’re no longer crude. Credit the convergence of the craft-beer boom and the restless creativity of mixologists.

“Craft beer and cocktails go hand in hand,” affirms Dustin Noel, GM of Capital Craft, a taphouse in Green Brook. “I think it intrigues the craft-beer drinker who looks at the cocktail list and says, ‘Hey, I love IPAs. There’s IPA in this cocktail. I should probably try this.’”

A beer cocktail can be as simple as a “beermosa”: orange juice with a light, sparkly beer replacing the bubbly. Bernard Johnson, regional sales manager for the Canadian brewery Unibroue, mixes OJ with his Blanche de Chambly Belgian-style white ale.

“It’s refreshing, acidic and high in vitamins B and C,” he says. “The flavors of coriander, orange and lemon zest make for a complementary pairing.”

Keg & Kitchen in Haddon Township makes a Whiskey Weisse with rye, lemon, simple syrup infused with Citra hops, and a German hefeweizen, or wheat beer. In many cocktail recipes, sour beers can replace juices, and stouts, coffee stouts or porters can replace coffee or coffee-based spirits.

Capital Craft’s Noel makes simple syrup using beer instead of water. He and his staff, for example, add sugar to Timmerman’s Strawberry Lambic beer, boil it down and mix the lip-smacking syrup with lime and basil-infused gin to produce a Strawberry Basil Gimlet. He notes that roasty porters and stouts play well with bourbon, and tequila in a grapefruity IPA makes a marvelous nouveau margarita. Alternatively, “I’ll take a super-hoppy beer like Carton Boat or Kane Head High,” he says, “add sugar and harness the grapefruit flavor in the hops to make a great syrup.”

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