Forget everything you’ve been told about mixing your alcohol.
You should drink beer with cocktails. In fact you should drink beer in your cocktails.
Beer cocktails have been popping up with greater frequency for a few years, and this summer, as warmer temperatures settle in, they’ve really taken off.
There’s nothing new about beer sharing a glass with spirits and mixers.
Visitors to Mexico are familiar with the Michelada (and its regional Chelada variations) which is beer mixed with lemon or lime juice, salt, Worcestershire and hot sauces. Germans have the Gose mit Kümmellikör with a shot of spiced Kümmel liqueur in a glass of beer. The Shandy, popular in the U.K., covers a lot of territory combining beer in equal parts with ginger ale, lemonade, cider, or just another type of beer, like a stout and ale Black and Tan. And of course the U.S. has the Boilermaker, a long-time staple of working-class bars combining beer with a shot of whiskey.
What’s new is the craft.
The twin movements of craft beer and craft cocktails have given new life to beer cocktails. Today’s drinkers crave quality and variety. They’re always on the lookout for new ingredients and flavors, and the craft brewing and distilling industries are happy to oblige. Innovative mixologists are finding new ways to use them, creating original cocktails from high-quality spirits, house-made syrups, spices, fresh squeezed fruit juices, and craft-made beer with plenty of character.
Canny flavor combinations or abominable crimes against beer?
Purists argue that beer is already a perfectly crafted cocktail of barley, hops, yeast, and water. They see no gain in plonking more booze and fussy mixers into a well-made brew. Mixologists counter resistance by arguing that well-chosen additions will complement rather than disguise a beer’s flavor. The more complex the beer, the more avenues of taste opportunities it offers: a touch of citrus will cut through the heaviness of a pale ale; a light and sweet wheat beer is balanced by the bite of Vermouth or Campari; and the botanicals in gin can accentuate the lightly-hoppy nuances of a lager.
Cocktail traditionalists also balk at tampering.
Any addition to spirits, even ice or a splash of water, is sacrilege to a certain type of aficionado. Beer cocktails are probably not for them, and indeed none of us should be messing with a 21 year-old Macallan. But there are plenty of spirits that will benefit from beer in the same way that any well-chosen mixer can transform them into a cocktail that’s greater than the sum of its parts. A splash of beer will add effervescence without watering down a cocktail like club soda or sweetening it like ginger ale; the malt and yeast can cut the sugar in fruity drinks and stand up to the spice in pepper-spiked cocktails. When well-matched, even the beer-averse can appreciate the finishing touch of flavor and complexity.
An open mind and palate can pay off with some intriguing flavors.
Bartenders love experimenting with beer’s endless array of tastes and styles, and drinkers appreciate the novelty as well as the larger glasses and thirst-quenching power it brings to mixed drinks. The union is not for everyone, but you’re going to be seeing a lot of beer in cocktails this summer.
Buzzfeed shares 26 Drinks That Prove Mixing Beer Is A Great Idea .
Just don’t test out any of those 26 drinks in Nebraska, the only state where it’s illegal to serve cocktails that combine liquor and beer. The law is a holdover from Prohibition when Nebraskans were known to spike their legal, non-alcoholic beer with liquor.