Not just a shot and a beer

Craft beer cocktails make mixology magic.

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click to enlarge CRAFTY: Incorporate craft beers - like Kona Brewing's Big Wave Golden Ale into drink recipes for a delightful spin on your cocktail. - KONA BREWING
CRAFTY: Incorporate craft beers like Kona Brewing's Big Wave Golden Ale into drink recipes for a delightful spin on your cocktail.

During the holidays, the parties seem to keep coming one after another. From sit-down dinners to less-formal gatherings, and the ever-present company party, one flows into the next. It’s the season of cocktails and wine, and all too often beer gets left off the menu. But with a little imagination, and a healthy dose of courage, there is another option to explore: the beer cocktail.

The first thing that comes to mind for many people when they hear “beer cocktail” is something like a shandy (beer and sparkling lemonade) or a boilermaker (shot of whiskey dropped in a beer). While those are fine, craft beer cocktails elevate the genre to that of true mixology. By balancing the endless varieties of beer flavors against the higher potency of spirits, the adventurous drinker can discover some truly unique and delicious concoctions.

Here are some possibilities. Remember that the type of beer is what's important, not necessarily the brand, so feel free to experiment and swap out for another variation of the same style.


1/3 bottle (4 oz.) chilled Kona Brewing Big Wave Golden Ale

1 chilled oz. Bombay Sapphire gin

1 oz. St-Germain Liqueur

Generally, I can’t stand gin, but this blend is fantastic. The floral scent hints at the increased alcohol, and the smooth, rich feel and sweet taste make for a deliciously dangerous drink. This recipe — concocted by Republik (in Hawaii) bartender Hoyt Uyehara — won first prize at the annual Battle of the Beer-tenders contest, which is held annually at the Koko Marina Pub on Oahu each October. In a tumbler, add all three liquids and stir. No ice is necessary if the beer is chilled, but a garnish of an orange slice would do nicely.

Drag You Down to Helles

4 oz. Cigar City Hotter Than Helles

2 oz Kraken spiced rum

½ oz. lime juice

1 oz. cinnamon syrup

3 wedges of blood orange

Raw sugar (for glass rim)

The sweetness, spice, and mouthfeel of a truly great rum rivals fine bourbons and scotch. And what better way to balance that than with a dry and refreshing beer? This is a variation on the recipe designed by Luke Wederbrook, contributor to and bartender at Areal in Santa Monica, California. First, rim a tumbler glass with raw sugar, then place four or five ice cubes in the glass. In a cocktail shaker, add the beer, rum, lime juice, and cinnamon syrup. Shake well, and then strain into the tumbler. Garnish with blood orange.

Florida Winter

1 oz. Palm Ridge whiskey

½ oz. simple syrup

5 oz. Big Storm Wavemaker Amber

5 oz. Tampa Bay Brewing Company Jack the Quaffer Porter

A Florida-centric variation on New York’s JoeDoe Black & Tan cocktail, this is a craft beer dessert cocktail sure to please. First, combine the Palm Ridge and simple syrup in cocktail shaker and shake. Strain the mixture into a pilsner glass and carefully add ice. Slowly pour in Wavemaker, and then use a bar spoon to add Jack the Quaffer, keeping the liquids separate. For extra flare, garnish with a frozen marshmallow.

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