To beer, or not to beer?

8th January 2024

The accepted definition of a cocktail, according to Google, is “an alcoholic drink consisting of a spirit or spirits mixed with other ingredients, such as fruit juice or cream.” However, this definition is not broad enough to capture the innovations which have been occurring in the cocktail world. Although not a new phenomenon, beer cocktails have become much more popular lately, with new bars opening across the world, specializing in these beverages.
Post Office Pies, in Birmingham, is actually a pizza restaurant, but it has become popular for its beer-tails. One of the best-sellers is the King’s Spring Cocktail, a concoction of Avondale Peach Saison, blueberry simple syrup, lemonade, basil and lemon.

Across the water, in Boston, the Tap Trailhouse, and Russell House, are two premises that are also promoting their beer cocktails. At the newly opened Tap, there are four beer cocktails to choose from, and they cost $11. One of the most popular is the Fallen Leaves cocktail, a blend of cranberry cordial, Oloroso sherry, angostura bitters and pumpkin ale.

It is easy to forget how versatile beer can be. But with a massive range of high-quality lagers, ales and bitters to choose from, beers have made the jump to cocktail status. Here is a list of some of the best beer-tails around:

  • Possibly one of the most popular beer-based cocktails (in my house, at least), the Snakebite is a simple combination of cider and lager. Half a pint of each, plus a dash of blackcurrant if you wish, makes for a potent beverage. A favorite at music festivals.

  • Mix a pint of wheat beer with roughly a quarter of a pint of banana juice to create a Bananenheizen. This cocktail makes for a surprisingly tasty combination.

  • The Dirty Flower is a more complicated cocktail. It is made up of fresh grapefruit, gin, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, sugar, orange bitters and wheat beer. Perfect for a summer barbeque, this drink turns a boring old beer into a fruity, delightful drink.

  • Guinness has always been more than just an ale. Used regularly in food recipes, and promoted as an excellent source of iron, the Irish have created a drink that is loved all over the world. The Guinness Cream Soda is another example of its versatility. Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur is combined with Navan vanilla liqueur, club soda, and Guinness. Most prefer to use draught beer rather than bottled to ensure a creamier finish.

  • Black Velvet is another well-known drink. Half a pint of Guinness is mixed with half a pint of Brut Sparkling Wine to give a well-loved beer a boost.

  • If you insist on tequila in your cocktail, the Coup de Ville may be more to your taste. It is made with Anejo tequila, lime juice, orange juice, orange liqueur and light Mexican beer.

Cocktail hour is no longer limited to the spirits. Man-up and choose a beer, with a twist.

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Bartender's top tip

Just like cooking, consider using seasonal ingredients to make your cocktails. Fresh summer fruits, herbs, and edible flowers can add a fresh twist to your drinks, while autumn and winter call for ingredients like apple cider, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Seasonal ingredients are not only at their peak of flavor but also can inspire you to create themed drinks that fit the time of year.

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